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This is TTAG’s weekly roundup of legal and legislative news affecting guns, the gun business and gun owners’ rights. For a deeper dive into the topics discussed here, check out this week in gun rights at FPC

Pandemic sales surge ravages the ammo market

Crises — real ones — remind us that the world is not a safe place, and the current pandemic is no different. As the markets continue to plummet, companies are laying off more employees, meaning there are people out there who, despite their best efforts, are no longer able to support themselves financially.

When people get desperate, they are more willing to do what they think is necessary to feed their families and themselves. While many firearms enthusiasts have maintained their preparedness for these scenarios, most people haven’t thought that far ahead.

As a result, they’ve been flocking to gun stores and outfitters seeking guns and ammunition. In fact, reports that it has seen a 276% increase in ammunition sales over the last week. Shelves have been wiped clean of ammunition, and some companies that have it are rationing purchases.

Nobody knows how long the pandemic will last, and nobody really knows what the ultimate impact will be on the economy or how long it will take to recover. The uncertainty is driving a lot of panic buying, whether it be groceries, guns, or toilet roll. Is this reaction irrational? Only time will tell, but let it serve as a reminder for next time – preparedness is next to Godliness, and a reloading press is even closer.

Baltimore Mayor Bernard "Jack" Young
Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

More gun laws and assorted nonsense in Maryland

At a press conference this week, Baltimore Mayor Jack Young begged criminals to stop shooting people and comply with self-quarantine instructions in order to free up hospital beds for COVID19-infected individuals with compromised immune systems. Mayor Young’s speech followed a shooting in which multiple individuals were injured, something that isn’t uncommon in Baltimore, a city that had 348 homicides just last year.

By the way, it’s unclear whether the shooting victims were actually hit by the police officer who responded to the incident.

What would compel Mayor Young to beg criminals to not engage in criminal activity? Is it desperation? It’s apparent that Baltimore’s problem preceded the Corona Virus pandemic; despite strict gun control laws, bad actors continue to harm others. Just this week Maryland passed yet another gun control measure, this time requiring anybody transferring a long gun to do so via an FFL with attendant fee.

If these gun control measures are so effective, why aren’t they reducing Baltimore’s violent crime rate? Do the political elites of Maryland not appreciate the irony of the situation?

If the Maryland legislature really wants to address Baltimore’s violent crime problem, it should start by reconsidering its draconian stance on things like drug prohibition. The confluence of these factors is what drives people to engage in criminal activity that inherently requires violence, and these issues could easily be addressed.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia,File)

Local governments subverting rights for “safety” 

Guns are flying off the shelves across America (well, they were…they’re mostly gone now) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For gun owners who have lived through things like the federal assault weapons ban, 9/11, and the post-Sandy Hook gun control push, this is nothing new.

Whenever there is fear, uncertainty, or a pending prohibition, there are firearms purchases. Lots of them. At the end of the day, people want to feel like they can protect themselves, even people who would otherwise oppose civilian gun ownership.

Watching the surge in firearms purchases must have made anti-gun politicians nervous (it certainly upset the Moms), because now they are actively working to prevent gun purchases as this situation continues to evolve.

The most high-profile case of police power abuse comes from San Jose, California (quelle surprise), where Mayor Sam Liccardo forced the closure of a local gun shop after declaring that firearms retailers are “non-essential” businesses.

For context, Mayor Liccardo is the same legally-illiterate public official who thinks that gun owners should be forced to pay for “liability insurance” to offset societal costs caused by actual criminals who harm people they’ve never met.

The mayor said that the city is suffering from panic-buying of food, but that what San Jose “cannot have is panic buying of guns.” So is Liccardo saying that it’s okay to panic-buy food, but not okay to exercise a constitutionally protected right? Probably so.

Last week in New Orleans, Louisiana, Mayor Latoya Cantrell issued her own state of emergency declaration, completely sweeping aside most, if not all of her constituents’ constitutional rights.

First, the declaration permits the seizure of any private property. While the commandeering of private, personal property is accepted by some, the declaration doesn’t specify whether it applies to seizure of your car or your home.

Worse, Mayor Cantrell authorized authorities “to suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transporting of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and combustibles.” Transportation doesn’t necessarily mean transportation for sale, so it could easily be applied to individuals transporting their firearms after, say, they are compelled to leave their homes.

Mayor Cantrell’s office released another declaration on Monday which makes no reference to firearms, but it is unclear at this time whether this declaration is complementary or if it supersedes the previous declaration.

Trading safety for security is the most foolish thing we can do as a society. We should have learned this lesson with the deceptively named Patriot Act, but here we are.

While it is important to preserve human life, it is also important to make sure that the necessary evil we’ve elected for this purpose–the government itself–isn’t able to use the task to bludgeon our rights. The people in these positions are our most direct representatives, and they must be held accountable for these abuses.

Pennsylvania gun background check

Pennsylvania background check system crashes

The Pennsylvania State Police issued a statement on Wednesday, announcing two major outages of the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS), the state’s version of the federal background check system. This happened amidst a 219% increase in firearms purchases by Pennsylvanians.

Everytown for Gun Safety referred to PICS as the “model” gun background check system in the United States. The program received approximately $2,000,000 in federal funding between 2012 and 2017, used for technological and process improvements by the state police.

If it’s really the pinnacle of state background check systems, then why was it brought to its knees by less than ten thousand requests over a 24-hour period? Pennsylvania’s population is just shy of 13 million, so requests made by less than .08% of the state’s population crashed the system. Twice.

Maybe the better question is whether the program is designed to fail.

The state usually argues that background checks ensure that prohibited people can’t get their hands on firearms. This couldn’t be further from the truth – criminals have shown, time and time again, that they can gain access to firearms regardless of which laws a state may have on the books.

We already have an infuriatingly comprehensive federal background check system, so why do duplicative systems like PICS need to exist? Not only do systems like PICS delay firearms acquisitions, but they can, and do, wind up frustrating purchases entirely.

Although the Pennsylvania State Police promise to improve the system and staffing, it is important to note that it could “unexpectedly” fail again if a shopping mall’s worth of people, say, decide to exercise their right to purchase a handgun.

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    • I’d bet on all 3, with 1 and 3 being the most prevalent. One LGS owner I know has told me that a lot of the first time buyers have been asking for guns that he also had ammo for, even if it wasn’t one of the common calibers.

      #3 is all over Gunbroker. I’m seeing prices that in other times, would be hilarious.

      I mean, 40 cents a round for Tula FMJ? Fuggadaboutit!

      • Yep. Here’s some sound advice to any new gun owners reading this:

        Don’t buy at these silly prices. Ammo is normally much lower then this. Most of us learned the hard way too, during previous panics. In a few months ammo will once again be cheap.

  1. What happened to the laws that were passed after the Katrina confiscation? It was to prevent this from ever happening again. Bill HR5013, Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act, in 2006 president Bush signed it into law. Did New Orleans not get the memo?

    • It disappeared in the last flood.
      [For those who do not know, New Orleans has had a problem with flooding ever since the City was founded 300 years ago, and the politicians have been pretty successful in their failure to address it. New Orleans pumps a million gallon of water out of the City every day–until the power goes out. New Orleans is one of the most corrupt places in the country.]

    • Victoria,

      It could be ignorance on the part of the Mayor and her advisers. That would be a kind interpretation. More likely, they do not care if their actions violate the law; most people cannot afford to sue; lawsuits take money and a lot of time and can go on for endless appeals In the current panic-demic, the local government is more interested in creating a climate of fear, so that its citizens (and those who are not citizens) will comply. In this case, it is also an opportunity for the Mayor and her party to enforce through decree that which they cannot accomplish through legislation: annulment of the Constitution and the Bill-of-Rights.

  2. Victoria, I wondered the same thing. I worked Katrina. My co-workers and I disarmed not a single citizen.

    Hannibal, I believe the ammo shortage is due to panic buying and new firearms owners. Anyone speculating better flip that ammo fast. This has happened before. Once things settle down, and they will, the prices drop again, and they will, those speculators will be holding a poor investment. I say that only in the context of making money. I believe ammunition is one of the most intelligent things you can spend money on. Except in times like these. Unless you have none. In that case you just have to suck it up. I could make a fortune right now, but some things are not for sale.

      • GS – outdated? I have 7.62 ball ammo from the 70’s that still works just fine. Heck, with proper storage, you can store ammo and powder for decades.

        • Defens, you misunderstand. I wasn’t putting an expiration date on ammo. Stored correctly it will last forever. I once bought 900 rds of M-2 ball in en block clips. Korean War vintage. My only question was; Is it corrosive?” Seller didn’t know. I went to the library and looked it up. On microfish. Remember that? Probably not. It wasn’t M-2. It was black tip AP. Non-corrosive. Properly stored ammo lasts longer than my mom’s fig preserves.

        • Even if it is, in a pinch, I could always flush it with boiling water and run an oily patch down the bore after.

          A PITA, but one that goes *bang*…

  3. I would venture to say that all of these demotater politicians have bodyguards that have plenty of ammunition. They probably write it off on their expense reports each month. Disarming innocent citizens does not protect innocent citizens. When the sh1t finally hits the fan, the ones with the guns will be those already prepared and the criminals (be it politicians or everyday scum sucking thugs). Actually the politicians and scum sucking thugs are one in the same.

  4. I live in Baltimore. Mayor Young is a buffoon. As is the city state’s attorney, Marilyn Mosby, who publicly gave criminals the freedom to loot, vandalize and terrorize the city with no repurcussions…just like the “outlaw” from Philadelphia. Our cities need intelligent leadership, not people who failed the bar exam.

  5. Regarding the PA PIC background checks. I have never waited more than five minutes for an answer once my application has been entered. Twice, it has been near instantaneous. So, if we must have such a system (the necessity and utility of which I doubt), it seems responsive. That being said, I have heard complaints about its accuracy and near-impossibility of getting bad data corrected.

  6. I don’t see the ammo-pocalypse in this craziness. The manufacturers are just fine, raw materials, workers and distribution all unchanged. Like all panics this is an emotional thing.

    Well, sorry campers but society is not collapsing. Roving bands led by deformed Warlords are not taking up residence in barren atomic wastelands. The T-Virus has not devastated Raccoon City and Patricia Tallman is not rallying to fight the living dead.

    Although some of that is good entertainment.

    Emotions will ease, this virus will run its course, and the routine of daily life will return.

    And store shelves would already be full again but for all the frightened snowflakes losing sphincter control and being in no hurry to regain it.

    • Though I am willing bet .22 will be gone for a long time again. It took 3 years for .22 prices to come back to earth last time. I actually gave up on owning a .22 during that last one, and haven’t looked back. Since then 9mm became nearly as cheap and is far more effective all around so I replaced anything I’d use a .22 for with a 9mm.

    • Enuf,

      Agree. Highly unlikely production and distribution channels will be significantly impacted over a long term. That being said, I’ve ordered a gun turret for my Subaru Forrester. And steel cages for the windows. Just in case.


      • My commuter car daydream has the Typhoon Weapon System. Remote controlled, 25mm Bushmaster Auto-cannon. Commonly seen on Naval vessels. Good Stuff!

    • “The manufacturers are just fine, raw materials, workers and distribution all unchanged. Like all panics this is an emotional thing.”

      Same as in 2012, after Newtown, and ammo was out-of-stock in some cases, well over a year…

      • Yes, saw that too. The cause was human behavior being out of whack, totally off their gourd. Ammo makers were making it all as fast as they could and the hoarders were finding ways to game the rules and buy it all up pronto. I knew co-workers who were piling up credit card debt buying gun stuff they figured they’d need to defend their homes later, or could sell at massive mark-ups when “The Shit Hits The Fan”.

        One story I’ll never forget was from talking with a Cabela’s store manager. The evening of the Sandy Hook killings, a customer was in the store doing arm sweeps of .22LR ammo off the shelves into a shopping cart. They stopped him because boxes were breaking open in the cart, but that’s the first time they had a hint of what was coming.

        Then there was the guys selling .223/5.56 ammo in ziplock bags at a gun show, about a year later. They’d bought out a hoarder who had 250,000 rounds in white plastic pails with sealed lids, piled up in his garage. He sold it all at a loss to save his marriage, or so the story went.

        Same deal today, where the ammo was going is where the toilet paper is going. Emotional pygmies running in fear and panic, buying everything in sight, imagining the end of civilization is upon them.

        Or speculators thinking they can sell cans of soup later … as if the canned soup factories are about to be nuked or something.

        Fear filled idiots and schemers, that’s what is doing all this.

    • enuf,

      Well, sorry campers but society is not collapsing. Roving bands …

      Certainly not at this time, of course. The real question is whether Covid-19 leaves our nation a wasteland (for various direct and indirect reasons).

      Here are a two simple facts:
      (1) At this time (or soon-to-be within one or two weeks), something like 40% of our entire nation’s workforce are/will not be working, not producing, and not receiving pay. In some cases people are staying home of their own choice. In some cases workplaces have shut down of their own choice. And in some cases state emergency orders have shut down many/most businesses.
      (2) If fact #1 above persists long enough, it will at the very least cause a depression and at the worst cause society to totally unravel. Either condition will lead to widespread criminality. Some people will be opportunistic and prey on the resulting weakness. And some people will be desperate and prey on the resulting weakness.

      We are in uncharted territory. If we wrap-up this virus thing within a month or two and promptly get everyone back to work/business and producing, there will not be roving bands of criminals. If the virus hangs on longer and it takes five or six months before everyone gets back to work/business, that could be a serious problem.

  7. The Loony Leftards,1/2 are against guns and the other half are trying to buy one and the ammunition to go with said gun.

    • Make that 2 guns, with the extra going to the group half that are more purist brethren who secretly want a gun but can’t yet bring themselves to publicly admit it.

  8. IMO…Since Donald John Trump was elected POTUS the democRat Party and their ilk have done anything and everything to undo the votes of 63 million citizens. Halting gun sales is in their deranged Jim Crow Gun Control Nature. That said…If a cure was found for 19 I would not put it past the democRat Party to withhold it from the public if they thought an ongoing virus would prevent the POTUS from being reelected. After the past 3 years of demoCrap only a fool would trust those ratbassturds.

  9. Doing any way , so , go for it , if got extra $$$ to spend or ? max out the credit card , hope it’s not a choose between toilet paper and ammo , maybe create jobs some where down the line in good old USA …. remember weapon safe , insurance for weapon , like or other, some local in state where ya live . Stay safe , stay alert , good luck , God Bless America

  10. Lay down all the BS you want. There are a lot more Americans armed to resist the treasonous Trump and McConnell then there were a month ago. My full support for second amendment, and the entire bill of rights.

      • Actually, Mitch McConnell is directly in bed with the Chinese communists.

        You may be aware that his wife, Elaine Chou, who held cabinet positions in both the George W. Bush and the current Trump administration, is a multibillionaire Chinese business woman, with ties to the communist party.

        Mitch McConnell will do exactly what the Chinese communists tell him to do, he cares not for the average American worker.

        • Please provide proof that Elaine Chou has “ties to the communist party.”

          I don’t know why you would mind if there were ties, because that would make her a ChiCom, just like you.

    • Both of you dumbocrats are full of shit. Trump and McConnell are working to save this nation while idiot democrats are busy trying to load the relief package with liberal wish lists. If Democrats were in charge right now, they’d have let in millions of “virus refugees”, and we’d all be infected. They’ll stop at nothing to destroy America.

      • “Elaine Chao’s father, James Chao, founded Foremost Group, a shipping, trading, and finance company now run by Elaine’s sister Angela Chao. While the company is based in New York, its fleet is, per the Times, “overwhelmingly focused on China,” with roughly 72% of the raw materials it has shipped since early 2018 going to China, cargo that “helps feed” Beijing’s “industrial machine, which manufactures steel products that are a point of dispute in the deepening trade war between” China and the U.S. The company reportedly constructs almost all its vessels in state-owned shipyards in China, some with loans from the Chinese government.”

        • So in your mind, the actions of parents and siblings should bring punishment to ALL members of the family?
          “Sins of the father” here in the US.
          Keep your guilt by association BS in China.

  11. If these gun control measures are so effective, why aren’t they reducing Baltimore’s violent crime rate?

    Progressives are just as concerned about their whimsical notions of virtue as they are about effectiveness. Thus, Progressives are not all that dismayed that their gun-grabbing measures are not effective since their measures are “virtuous” (in their eyes).

    And I will also point out that the Progressive desire to be “virtuous” is really just a realization of their only commanding trait: feelings above all. When you boil it all down, all Progressives really care about are feelings. They readily reject facts, truth, logic, and timeless standards when their feelings demand it.

  12. If [Pennsylvania’s state operated background check system is] really the pinnacle of state background check systems, then why was it brought to its knees by less than ten thousand requests over a 24-hour period?

    That is exactly what makes it the pinnacle of state background check systems!

    When are the masses going to wake up and realize that government is rarely, if ever, honorable, righteous, and primarily concerned about We the People?

    Pro tip: government is almost universally concerned about itself and the ruling class.

    • Exactly!
      “Not only do systems like PICS delay firearms acquisitions, but they can, and do, wind up frustrating purchases entirely.” That’s not a bug, that’s a feature! And maybe the main reason why was PICS implemented in the first place.


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