COLUMBIA- One Columbia gun dealer said it is feeling the effects of a nation wide ammunition shortage.
Target Masters located on Rangeline Road sells guns and ammo and operates an indoor shooting range. Employee Jim Hill said for about the past six months, the shop has had a hard time meeting customer's ammunition demand.
"Everybody's short. The distributors have nothing to ship," said Hill. "When they do, you know, being fair they'll try to ration what they get. So instead of getting pallete loads of ammo we may get a box or two."
According to Hill, some customers buy popular ammo when it comes in before it even touches the self.
"We've had people stand at the counter as we check things in and buy it right on the spot," said Hill.
Target Masters usually rents handguns for range users to shoot, but because of limited ammo Hill said the shop had to eliminate that option all together. Perhaps more importantly, the shop is running low on ammunition used to teach handgun safety classes like the one required to apply for a Conceal and Carry permit.
"We don't even have a lot of calibers to support the conceal and carry classes or the private lessons we do," said Hill.
Hill said the only way for people to shoot at the range is if they bring their own ammo- something Target Masters never used to allow.
Hill said 9 mm and .22-caliber rounds are the most commonly asked for bullets and the ones that took the hardest hit from the shortage.
But it is not just small shops that are suffering. Larger retailers like Bass Pro Shop and Dicks Sporting Goods in Columbia said they do not have any 9 mm or .22-caliber rounds as of Thursday. Spokespeople from each store said they were unsure when more would come in but that they limit customers to 3 boxes of ammunition per day.
The majority of the Columbia Police Department's standard issue pistols use 9 mm rounds according to SWAT commander captain Brad Nelson. But Nelson said the department planned ahead when ordering ammunition and is unaffected by the recent shortage.
"We are fortunate in that we ordered quite a but last year," said Nelson. "We actually saw this coming and are fine now."
Each year the department tries to order the number of bullets it will use said Nelson. "We're not stock piling it," said Nelson. "Its planned almost to the bullet to how many we're going to use in that fiscal year."
For average gun owners, though, Hill attributes the shortage to political lobbying for stricter gun control laws in Congress.
"Once the politicians calm down, then I think the ammo producers can catch up," said Hill.
Hill said he expects that to happen in the coming months.