Bruce Ashmore picked up a new hobby last month. While he's found a range to practice at, he's had a hard time finding ammunition to practice with.
"Pretty much every place we've gone to is pretty much out of ammo," Ashmore said.
He was able to get some ammo at the Family Shooting Academy in Bellevue.
"People have been coming out a lot less to shoot," said owner Mike Shea. He says the store has so little 9mm handgun ammo that's it's only being sold for on site training.
"The ammunition supply nationwide has just dried up. The suppliers and manufacturers can't keep up with the demand so the distributors that sell to us don't have any ammunition so we can't get it," Shea said.
At Gus's Guns in Suamico, it's the same story.
When asked how bad the ammunition shortage is clerk Bronson Smith replied, "Very bad. Very bad to the point where you can't buy 9mm ammunition anymore."
Smith says the store also has no .22 caliber ammo. The store is only selling certain types of ammo to customers who buy guns at the store.
"There's nothing we can do about it," Smith said. "The places we get our stuff from are out. So if they can't get it, we can't get it."
Certain types of ammo are also hard to find at some major retailers like Walmart, Fleet Farm and Gander Mountain. When a shipment comes in, many stores have put limits on how much customers can buy. So why is there such a shortage?
"Basically, it's people buying more than they ever have before. What it boils down to is people instead of buying one box are buying five," said Jeff Nass. He is the executive director of Wisconsin FORCE, a group affiliated with the National Rifle Association.
Nass says talk of new gun control laws is driving the ammo shortage.
"I think they're concerned the government is going to restrict it. That's the biggest concern they have," Nass said.
On its website, the NRA says "Current ammunition shortages are driven by consumer demand, which has spiked due to the ongoing attacks on gun owners' rights."
But that's not a good enough explanation for some.
When asked what he thinks is behind the shortage, Smith said. "What I really feel is the United States government is expecting civil unrest sometime in the near future. Maybe not this year or next year but someday. And they need to stockpile ammunition to fight the people."
The Internet is filled with stories about the Department of Homeland Security allegedly buying 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. It turns out the federal government is buying ammunition but not that much and not all at once.
The Department of Homeland Security spokesperson says the agency has a contract to buy up to 750 million rounds of ammo over the next five years. That ammo is for 90 federal agencies to use at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
A separate five-year contract allows DHS to buy up to 450 million rounds of ammo for federal law enforcement agents like border patrol, Secret Service and immigration.
If you add it up, the government contracts are for up to 1.2 billion rounds. But DHS says that's the ceiling and doesn't mean that's how much the government will buy. Plus, it's spread out over the next five years.
In a statement to FOX 11, a DHS spokesperson said that the government is combining several contracts and basically buying in bulk "to leverage the purchasing power of the entire Department to efficiently procure equipment and supplies at significantly lower costs."
Congressman Reid Ribble, R-8th District, says his office has been bombarded by questions about the ammo contracts.
When asked if he believes the government ammunition purchases are affecting the market he replied, "I do. They are affecting it, to the extent it's hard to say. But what you have is this new five-year contract with DHS, simultaneously with this national debate on guns and how we should deal with this."
One of major government suppliers of ammo is Federal Premium Ammunition. A statement on the company's website says the DHS contract "...makes up a very small percentage of our total ammunition output. This contract is not taking ammunition away from civilians."
In a statement to FOX 11, a spokesman for the ammo maker says "The current increase in demand is attributed to the civilian market. Our production volumes on government contracts have been stable since the mid-2000s."
Mike Shea at Family Shooting Academy says the shortage can't be blamed on one thing.
"You have a combination of shooters who have been shooting for years who are hoarding ammunition, the government buying up a large amount, and a whole influx of new shooters that need to stock up and supply themselves so they can't get into the sport. It's just a broader consumer base than it was," Shea said.
But if he had to pick one cause he would say fear.
"I think the fear is definitely at the top," he said. "After the recent shootings we saw a dramatic increase in the sales of ammunition. People buying up large amounts of ammunition to take home and sit on."
No one knows when the shortage will end, but Ribble tells gun owners he is confident it will end.
"I just tell them to be patient and it will work itself out in the marketplace," Ribble said. "The government is not up to anything extraordinary. The government is doing what the American people asked them to do and that is to save money in their purchasing and streamline it."
But some members of Congress are concerned about how much ammunition the government is buying. In fact, they've introduced the "Ammunition Management for More Obtainability Act, or AMMO.
The bill would put limits on how much ammo the government can buy with hopes of freeing up more ammo for the general public.
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