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Guns and ammunition shortage felt in the Twin Cities

Audacy logo Audacy 1/8/2021
a stack of flyers on a table © Provided by RADIO.COM

Ahead of the 2016 presidential election, fears over Democrats winning the oval office set-off a firestorm of gun and ammunition sales. The 2016 demand led to a record-setting year for gun sales with , according to the FBI.

When President Trump won the election, guns and ammunition sales embarked on a period sometimes referred to in the firearms industry as the "Trump-slump."

"A lot of people felt comfortable that they didn't have to worry about any new gun regulations, but it goes beyond that," said Kory Krause, owner of Frontiersman in St. Louis Park. "Manufacturers and distributors thought the election was going to go the other way. They overproduced and they overstocked. Two of the nation's largest distributors actually went out of business because they bought to much and it was rotting on the vine. Retailers weren't ordering it."

Fast forward to 2021, Krause says he can hardly find enough product to offer customers after a run on guns and ammunition throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, events leading up to the 2020 election, and post-election events.

"It's just putting further stress on the industry and supply chains which are still not recovered from the whole thing with COVID beginning back in March," Krause said. "Imports are way down, things are sitting in customs forever, and components needed to build things here even."

Gun sales surged Wednesday afternoon as Trump supporters seeking to overturn the 2020 election results stormed the U.S. Capitol. According to their own accounts, Smith & Wesson stocks jumped 18 percent. Ruger stocks ended Wednesday up 12 percent .

The demand isn't necessarily putting stores like Frontiersman in a position to cash-in.

"Business is as good as it can be," Krause said. "The struggle we have is that we have probably less than 20-percent than what we'd have normally in our inventory. And it's not for a lack of trying. If we had all the inventory we could get in here, I'd be retired by now. We're limited because we don't have anything to sell."

a sign on the side of a building: gun store © Provided by RADIO.COM gun store
Photo credit Photo by Mark Freie - Entercom

The lack of inventory is having a direct impact on pricing.

"Ammunition has been one of the worse things. There has been no ammo," he said. "A box of 9mm pistol ammunition runs about $9.99 per box in our store. Online it's about $50 at its cheapest, if you can find it."

While Krause says many buyers are looking to improve their safety, or anticipating stricter gun laws as President-elect Joe Biden takes office, there's also been a rising interest in hunting during the pandemic.

"People are spending more time outside," he said. "We have no hunting rifles or hunting ammo."

Now the firearms industry awaits how a new administration will approach the Second Amendment.

President-elect Biden's approach towards gun policy includes implementing a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. His plan also includes, "universal background check legislation, requiring a background check for all gun sales with very limited exceptions, such as gifts between close family members."

"I think we are going to see some of the restrictions that we had between 1994 and 2004 like the assault weapon ban," said Krause.

Krause anticipates universal background checks will add more-pressure to businesses like his.

"When you sell a car, you both go to the DMV to make sure the title gets transferred," he said. "If you want to sell a gun to your neighbor, you're going to have to come in and we're going to have to do the paperwork along with the instant check. I think we're going to see that this year, too."

The ban on assault weapons could leave yet another void to fill for stores who face shortages. Krause believes it could be at least a year or two before shortages on lower-priced ammunition and guns get back to a sense of normalcy.

"It's going to be a rough road for people who want stuff," he said. "You're either going to pay a ton of money, if you can, but you'll mainly take what we have. If you want a gun, you'll have to settle for any gun."

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