ATLANTA, April 19, 2009 -- Where have all the bullets gone?
That's the question many gun shop owners across the nation are asking in the wake of an ammunition shortage.
At Georgia Arms, an ammunition and reloading supplies company outside of Atlanta, the machines that make bullets spit out 4,000 rounds of ammo every hour, and that's not nearly enough.
"We have been running pretty much around the clock for the last two or three months," Georgia Arms co-owner Curtis Shipley said.
Shipley has been in the ammunition business for three decades. He's never seen a shortage like this.
"We literally have got folks come up and just hand me $200 and say, 'How much ammo can I get.' I've never seen that before." Shipley said.
The demand has been so huge that Georgia Arms can't keep up. Shipping for new orders is being delayed by five to seven weeks.
It's not much different at gun stores, where the ammo aisles look just like grocery store shelves before a hurricane.
Gun owners like Dennis Cantrell have been looking for ammunition, but can't find any. "We've called several places to try to find some .45 ammunition and no luck."
So why are the shelves empty?
Gun shop owner Jay Wallace said it is largely because of the election of Barack Obama. Fear that the president will change gun laws is prompting many gun owners to store up as much ammo as they can, as fast as they can.
"They are afraid they are not going to be able to get ammunition anymore," said Wallace. "So they are buying it and stockpiling it."
According to Wallace, it's a flashback to the seventies when there was supposedly a sugar shortage. When people heard there was a shortage, they came in and bought up all the sugar there was, in effect creating it.
Consumers aren't the only ones to blame, however. Years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have also depleted the supply of ammunition because suppliers are required to give the military first choice.
The shortage of ammunition is also putting the squeeze on local police departments. At the firing range in Cobb County, Ga., officers simply cannot afford to take as many practice shots as they once could.
Police Told to Bring Own Ammo
"It's no longer you can shoot what you want to shoot on an open range day," Cobb County Police Department Sgt. Dan Ferrell said. "You only get 50 rounds and that's it and they go home."
Ferrell said some departments are even encouraging officers to bring their own ammunition for training sessions.
To conserve even more, the department is also doing more training in a simulator to keep from wasting a single bullet.