I’m a gun dealer. I’ve seen some crazy stuff over the years and I have some interesting stories.
Ever since last Friday, our phones have been ringing off the hook with requests for ammo, guns and just about everything else we sell. There’s an incredible amount of fear, uncertainty and doubt floating around out there. People in California have even called me [my store is about 2000 miles away] asking for guns and ammo, not realizing that:
- We have to ship guns to an FFL near them, not their home. That’s federal law.
- Guns they buy there have to be approved for sale by the state, have 10-round magazines, etc.
- There is a 10-day waiting period to pick up a newly purchased firearm there.
- No one in California can buy ammunition without a background check.
Imagine their surprise when they were informed of all the hurdles placed in the way of legal firearms ownership in their state. More than one person called expecting that I’d take their credit card number and FedEx them a home defense tool in a box.
And I’m not the only gun dealer who’s been dealing with clueless Californians [NSFW].
This is one of the best videos I’ve seen. This gun store is in California. pic.twitter.com/8Uz21C6CGd
— Phillip The Assyrian 🤷🏻♂️🤷🏻♂️ (@Philcovfefe) March 22, 2020
These are not normal times. Even some of my staunchly left-voting gun-hating friends are getting in on it. I had the following conversation with one of them:
Me: Are you ready for this?
Diane: I picked a REALLY shitty time to decide I need a gun. I hated my boyfriend’s guns, they weren’t comfortable to shoot at all, the trigger is really heavy and I don’t like recoil.
Me: Wait, you…are buying a gun?
Diane: We live in strange times. I changed my mind. Do you have any idea on how to get ammo? The Cabelas and Bass Pro near us are sold out. My boyfriend does not have enough ammo to practice/teach me and defend the place.
Me: Uh, there’s no ammo for sale wholesale in the country right now. You are kinda out of luck.
Diane: What do you mean there’s no ammo? Someone’s got to have something.
Me: Well, I mean you COULD go to Cheaper Than Dirt and try ordering from them, but the prices are inflated and even then they are two to three weeks behind on shipping.
Diane: Do you have any friends with any 9mm or 12 gauge ammo?
Diane: Would they be willing to take an order and sell?
Me: Any dealer that has an ammo order working for the past few weeks is either going to hold onto that stash like gold, sell it to their best customers, or it’s already spoken for because they need it for the shelf and are enforcing strict quantity limits like one box per person per day.
Diane: Well, I’m picking up a 9mm. How am I supposed to get ammo?
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we in the business call a lightbulb moment. Some folks get it, some folks do not.
At the end of the week, I went around with my crew and we all traded “best of” stories we heard coming in the door and over the constantly ringing phone. In no particular order, here are some of the things we’ve heard in the last week.
- A lady called us up looking for some 9mm ammo. I asked how much she needed. She said seven. I asked, seven boxes or 700 rounds or…what? She said no, just 7. I asked: you mean one less than 8? She says yes. I ask why 7? She said that’s all her gun can hold. She has no ammo and just needs 7 rounds.
- A guy who wants ammo really badly NOW, but he’s willing to wait at most a week for me to get a truck in. When I explain that we’re not going to be getting a truckload of ammo in the next week, he asked why. I explained the long tail supply chain and how prices are going up. He got mad and said he’s going to go to a place that doesn’t rip off their customers. Apparently, he’s been buying 9mm at $20 for a 50-round box from the pawnshop down the street for the past 10 years and they’ve stated they aren’t raising their prices, so they earned a customer for life. He didn’t seem to realize that he’s been paying $400/thousand on 9mm for the last decade when shopping online got you quality ammo anywhere from $160-$190/thousand.
- Another guy called looking for 24 shotgun shells. Most shotgun shells come in a 5 count box for buckshot or slugs or a 25 count for birdshot. I asked him why 24? He said that’s all he needs to finish filling his bandolier. He’s prepared enough to own a bandolier, but not prepared enough to have the shells for it, apparently.
- One of my regular customers has a co-worker with three kids, a wife and a gun at home. And guess what? He has no spare ammo. He asked me to find a box of Hornady Critical Defense for him. I cracked open a spare case that I keep at home just in case of emergencies and found him a box.
These anecdotes aren’t intended to make fun of people — OK, maybe that first lady…a little bit — but most of my customers are pretty well educated with good jobs and a great head on their shoulders. But they were really caught with their pants down on this one.
I asked every single one of them who called why they were bone dry on ammo and they all said the same thing:
“I didn’t think I needed to restock. I was just going to do it later. I thought I had plenty of time.”
One of my old high school coaches had a favorite saying: “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” Being forearmed is not just for guns and magazines. It’s for ammunition, too. And toilet paper. And paper towels.