Gun control debate

Midlands ammunition dealers scramble to keep shelves filled

rburris@thestate.comJanuary 31, 2013 

ISTOCK

— Ammunition shelves at some area dealers are noticeably thinner these days – a reflection, gun experts say, of the frenzy some South Carolina gun owners are feeling over the national gun debate.

Visits to three popular Northeast Richland ammunition outlets Wednesday found gapingly empty shelves at one and signs limiting bullet purchases at all three.

“Due to high demand for ammunition, Dick’s Sporting Goods is limiting all .22 rim fire, pistol ammo, .223 and 5.56 mm. caliber to six boxes per customer,” signs at the Two Notch Road store read. “This is in effect until further notice. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

The scramble for ammunition has mounted across the nation in the weeks since the Dec. 14 killings of 20 elementary school children and six school employees in Newtown, Conn.

The U.S. Senate opened hearings in Washington Wednesday to begin consideration of measures aimed at slowing the rising national rash of gun violence.

Gun supporters, however, have been staunchly against any limits to gun rights and contend lawmakers in Washington are responsible for the run on ammunition.

“The controversy (in Congress) … that’s why it’s going on,” said Gerald W. Stoudemire, president of Gun Owners of South Carolina.

Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced legislation recently limiting gun and ammunition types, and calling for background checks on purchasers. President Barack Obama also has called for tighter restrictions on firearms in the U.S. since the Newtown killings.

“People are just hoarding and it’s in every state,” Stoudemire said. “It’s not South Carolina. It’s the national situation. Nothing’s going on in our (state) Legislature that’s causing it.”

Gun Owners of South Carolina is the state association of the National Rifle Association, which has steadfastly opposed curbing gun rights.

At Academy, a sports and outdoors retailer in Village at Sandhill, a sign on the ammunition shelf read: “Due to limited product availability, we are currently limiting purchase quantities on the following ammunition.” The sign then directed customers to the customer service counter where they could buy one box per caliber, and three boxes total per customer per day for 9 mm, 40, 45, .223, 5.56, .308, and 22 LR bullets. “We are committed to serving as many customers as possible,” the sign read.

At Walmart along Two Notch Road, ammunition is kept behind locked glass doors. Seven of 13 shelves where ammunition is kept were virtually empty. There was a row of .38 specials on one shelf, a row of .22 shorts on another, and four stacks of Winchester 17 HMRs on another, all by themselves.

“Attention: In order to serve as many customers as possible, all ammunition sales are limited to three boxes per customer per day,” the Walmart sign read.

“That’s all we got,” a store clerk said preemptively.

“South Carolina, whether people like it or not, is a very pro-gun state, and we’d like to keep it that way,” Stoudemire said. “The laws, that other people are introducing, like the federal laws with all this controversy – those laws don’t limit anybody but law abiding citizens. They do not limit criminals.”

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