By BRAD GASKINS
As co-owner of a small, family-operated business, Teresa Ellis said she prides herself on providing customers the products they want to buy.
Lately, that’s been easier said than done.
Certain types of guns and ammunition are in short supply and hard to find, said Ellis, who owns Gunslingers in Dresden with her husband Chet.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in December, some lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), have proposed banning the sale of assault rifles and all ammunition clips capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
Local family-owned business merchants told the Press that customers are buying as much as they can as fast as they can.
At Gunslingers, customers are buying up all the .22, .223 and 9mm ammunition they can get their hands on.
“Those are the three they’re after,” she said. “We’ve had so much ammunition sold the last few days it isn’t even funny.”
Gunslingers has been unable to order any of those types of ammunition through its normal distributors.
“You can’t buy or order it,” Ellis said. “It’s all on backorder.”
Chet Ellis was out of town last week managing a construction job in Oklahoma. He sent back 1,500 rounds of .22 ammunition for the store, most of which was bought immediately by customers, Teresa Ellis said.
“I’m just trying to keep my customers happy,” she said.
In addition to ammunition, she said customers want handguns and AR-style rifles but are having trouble finding them. Gunslingers has a couple AR styles in the .22s, but not in the .223s or .308s, Ellis said.
“When you order them, they’re out of stock,” she said. “There’s none that I can buy.”
The store also sells shotguns and shotgun shells, but those seem mostly unaffected by the rush to buy guns, she said.
“It’s mostly people buying stuff for their protection,” Ellis said, adding that customers are buying mostly handguns with clips, not revolvers.
Gun sales have increased at E C Pawn & Gun in Martin, according to Noah Taylor, who works at the store. However, it’s ammunition sales that have picked up more than anything.
Taylor said boxes of .22 caliber bullets are flying off shelves faster than any other item he’s seen in more than two years.
There seem to be less people selling or pawning guns, he said.
He said most customers aren’t shocked when they find out a particular gun or ammunition type isn’t in stock given the current rush.
Taylor summed up the issue this way: One of the nation’s leading gun distributors usually has 1,578 types of handguns in stock. They now have 85 in stock. The same distributor normally has 2,271 types of long guns to choose from. The current long gun offering is 556.
But it’s not just the popular caliber ammunition customers are buying.
Store owner Eddie Cole said customers are buying “nostalgic” ammunition like .32 caliber and other odd calibers.
“They used to not buy a box per year,” Cole said. “Not we’re selling four or five boxes at a time. People are really stocking up on some of the oddball type ammo. They’re really getting kind of scared about what might happen.”
It’s a similar situation at Russell’s Reloading, which has offices in Martin and South Fulton. Guns and ammo are hard to get.
“What we were able to get after all this has gone sky-high and people just can’t afford to buy it anymore,” said Ronnie Irvan, the son-in-law of Phillip Russell, owner of the business.
Classes for concealed carry permits have gone from one a month to three a month, Irvan said.
He said handguns have been harder to get since about June 2012. Ammunition started becoming hard to find a few weeks ago, he addd.
“Everybody’s bought everything up,” he said. “You can’t even reload your own ammunition.”
He said customers are “scared of what’s going to happen or what they’re going to ban.”