california ammunition background check
A photo from The Time Before (Dan Z for TTAG)
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DESPITE ALL THE ISSUES with the small arms market, there are steps that can be taken to help.

As in other industries, the Federal Trade Commission has been lax when it comes to enforcing antitrust regulations, so the FTC must get quicker on the draw. Further consolidation of the market should be stopped, but this does not unwind the last 50 years of mergers, which must be studied and potentially unwound.

The boom-and-bust cycle of ammunition demand, changing with the occupant of the White House, can make consistent production difficult, especially for small companies that may not have enough cash flow to withstand periods of difficulty. But while it is harder to predict, much less control, commercial market whims, the Pentagon can change how and when they want ammo.

The government could set consistent purchase requirements over a period of time, and then ensure that there is enough ammo stored in reserve to absorb any variations. Need more ammo than purchased in a year? Pull the extra out of the reserves. Didn’t use all the ammo that year? Put the extra in storage. The Defense Department could absorb and account for shifting demand instead of the small business, leaving them able to maintain consistent and robust supply chains and production capabilities. The Pentagon could also buy ammunition as futures to smooth the demand signal so that it is more predictable.

The government should methodically support small businesses through reliable contracting to build back a robust industrial base. To encourage this, the government could also split contracts, awarding them to multiple smaller companies, versus huge winner-take-all contracts. This would ensure competition and give smaller companies consistent military demand, and cash flow, to help weather dry spells.

Americans need to get wise to this conspiracy by monopolists. Large corporations line shareholders’ pockets while killing American jobs, costing government resources, and harming national security, in multiple industries, including ammunition. In the name of liberty, let this be the shot heard round the world.

— Elle Ekman in The Great American Ammunition Conspiracy

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  1. LOL…I ain’t wealthy but I prepared for years buying ammo when it was cheap. A conspiracy of dunces😉

    • Learn to reload or hook up with someone who can for you. Save your empty cartridges, buy component and store enough to get you over the drought. I recently started making lead bullets in .38 cal, just in case nothing else is available. Work fine, just not a lot of punch.

      • Even reloading components are in short supply, so it’s more of a “too bad if you weren’t already doing this and didn’t have a stash of supplies on hand.”

      • LOL again…my friend of 50 years reloads extensively. Talked to him a few months ago “where are small pistol primers??? Or any primers?!? Or 380 as my wife & daughter’s all have 380’s”. I ain’t “investing” in reloading. That ship has sailed

    • fww FTW!
      But cheap, stack deep.

      Yeti Tundra 65 coolers (with a dryer canaster inside) are great for secure (Master Magnum padlocks), temp/humidity stable, portable storage.
      Easily movable by two people (by the molded grips or rope handles) when loaded to under 300lbs.
      For all you “boaters”, a bead of pool o-ring silicone on the outside edge of the gasket makes them waterproof to 8ft for 72hrs. Pool tested. 😉 Could be longer/deeper, haven’t tested beyond the 8ft/72hr.

        • I just ignore those losers on TTAG.
          If I don’t recognize the username, I don’t read what they post. The exception being lil’d. I recognize the username, but don’t read his Marxist BS and regurgitated leftarded lies. 👍

      • Rethink Yeti. Try another brand like Coleman or Igloo; Yeti is antigun and I’ll never buy from them. We all need to deny profits to antigun companies..

        • Had four Tundra 65s before Yeti came out as anti-gun. They were retired to ammo storage after that.

        • Where are you buying 300 lbs of ammo for under $400?

          I got a bulk buy deal on Yeti coolers almost a decade ago, $1.2k for six of them. I wasn’t passing up a half price deal. My sons each got one for Christmas that year.

    • Work for 2-3 hours in y0ur spare time OO and get paid 1200 0n y0ur bank acc0unt every week…

      Get m0re inf0rmation 0n f0ll0wing site…>>> WorkJoin1

    • I stockpiled as best I could in the past few years. Money was tight for a while, so I didn’t get as much as I wish I would have (in retrospect). I’m flush with .22, and have a good supply of .32 (one of the calibers that remained cheap during the first Ammogeddon) for my milsurps. I also had the foresight (i.e. dumb luck) to buy a decent stock of 7.62×39 before the Biden Ban.

      Now, as for my supply of .38 SPL? Uh, you know how Barney Fife used to keep one bullet in his pocket…? 🙂

  2. ‘The government should methodically support small businesses…’

    That’s some pretty pie in the sky $hi+ right there. The government is usually too busy methodically crushing small businesses to support them.

    • State governments like California or others that have laws that negatively impact ammo purchases could get rid of those laws: ammo bg checks, requiring FFL for online purchases, lawmakers could push back on proposals to add ammo taxes. They could relax import laws or tariffs and environmental rules that impact ammo manufacturing or brass/copper/lead prices. Drop the pending ATF rule changes. If lawmakers stopped pushing gun control and supported second amendment rights we could avoid the tug of war of “this president and Congress will mostly not infringe, oops, next pres won and has active agenda to decimate gun rights if he just had enough votes”. If they just left things alone, ammo and gun purchases would be cheap, available, and boring.

      Imagine what the market would do if a party threatened to ban cell phones made after 2005 for civilian use, or TVs over 20″ in size. A threat of a ban on trucks or lightweight golf clubs made of anything except wood. These all sound crazy but gun owners and the gun industry constantly face these kinds of threats, restrictions, and rule changes that encourage panic buying. I probably would have waited to get my first AR lower if it wasn’t for the sandyhill hard legislative push to “do something.”

    • Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

      When are people going to realize that the Ruling Class maximizes what is good for the Ruling Class?

      Sure, on paper, government is a benevolent entity dedicated to preserving society. In the real world, many/most governments exist for their own benefit and/or the benefit of the Ruling Class.

      • Virtually every regulation or licensing requirement, whether state or federal, was pushed by big business with the intent of stifling competition.

    • The government shouldn’t be supporting businesses, it should stop trying to manage the economy. This article is calling for fascism.

      “the Federal Trade Commission has been lax when it comes to enforcing antitrust regulations”

      Trusts, cartels and monopolies are only possible thanks to government regulations keeping the bar to entry too high for the creation of new companies to compete with the established ones.

      Why do you think Facebook is begging to be regulated by the government? To make it more difficult for competition to gain a foothold.

  3. Conspiracy theories are simple explanations for very complex matters for simple minded people.

    Perfect for this audience…

      • No no no…

        It’s all about Occam’s Razor.

        The easiest answer is always… no,

        The correctest is the easy answer… no,

        The simpleton moron always… no that’s me,

        Oh I know… Rammer takes it up his Jammer… Yeah!

        … Occam’s Razor explained.

    • Sometimes conspiracy theories are correct. Remember how expensive music CDs were in the 90’s? Average prices in stores were almost $17 per album in the mid-to-late 90’s, equivalent to roughly $27 in today’s dollars. I remember hearing my friends always complaining about it and saying the music companies were conspiring to rip off music fans.

      Turns out they were right. Five major record labels were investigated by the FTC and found to be guilty of conspiring through illegal marketing practices and price-fixing schemes from 1995-2000. American consumers were overcharged roughly $500 million dollars (almost $800 million today) or about $5 per album. The music companies were sued by the AGs of forty-something US states. They ended up settling for $143 million. The CD price situation also lead to the birth of Napster in 2000, followed by other music piracy sites. That upended the industry, put most record stores out of business, and forced that industry to revolutionize how music was sold and priced. Now you can pay $1.15 a song on Apple Music instead of having to buy an entire album at an inflated priced to get the one song you want.

      Now we have just two companies that monopolize the ammo supply. Consumer anger is building to a point that the hammer is sure to drop on them at some point. It may come from government intervention, or it may come from disruptive technology. But market forces as old as human commerce predict that it is coming.

  4. The only thing the government wants to do when it comes to ammo is halt the sale and distribution of it to the entire population. They would not keep the cost down; they would make ammo non existent to the population besides what people have already stockpiled. The price difference would be like Bitcoin between 2010 and now.

  5. That picture has made me sooooo nostalgic. I can still remember when ammo was plentiful and relatively cheap. Then BLM and Antifa started burning cities, the lunatics took over the asylum in Washington, crime accelerated in the aftermath of “defund,” and millions of the formerly oblivious got wise and decided to tool up.

    Some ammo is back on the shelves, but it costs an arm and a leg. This happened once before in recent memory (2012, after Sandy Hook), but abundant ammo reappeared and the prices were drifting lower. I’m not so sure that the same will occur this time. The country has become a more dangerous place and it will take years to get that crime genie back in the bottle.

    • My brother and I stockpiled for years with ammo at $.01 – $.05 (depending on caliber) per round in factory case lots. We’ve got several self-store rental units full of it.

      Didn’t do it because we are “preppers” or “survivalists”, or preparing for a looming “zombie apocalypse” or collapse of society. We simply did it because we could get it as those low prices and we wanted ammo for our guns available when we wanted it.

  6. I don’t see any “conspiracy” here with the ammo industry.

    The pandemic hit and no matter if you think its a thing or not it did affect production of a little of everything, people hoarded and bought mass quantities of everything including ammo. Suddenly the main market ammo supply intended to supply the average shooter on a firing range up to maybe a couple of times a month for maybe a few hundred rounds max was hit with demands for millions of rounds above their average production rate, they invaded their stockpiles and reserves and shipped it out as quickly as possible and tried to step up production. Those with money bought millions of rounds, overall gun owners collectively bought millions of rounds, federal and state government bought millions of rounds, even people who are not gun owners collectively bought millions of rounds and hoarded it intending to sell it at high prices and make a buck or use it to bargain with when “society collapsed”. The net effect was breaking the production supply line because it was not intended to handle this type of activity, so simply could not keep up with the sudden demand and fell further and further behind until they reached their final fall back position and that is manufacturing to maintain stock for the federal government and all others are secondary.

    The ammo industry production was not designed for this activity. I see an industry that failed to realize things were not always going to be “status quo” of a production average vs average usage rate and planned production capacity for that only and as a result didn’t have enough manufacturing capacity to catch up and meet demand very quickly. The result is, as it is with any industry in this situation, predictably a shortage that we see today. This is typical of industries who plan production capacity based on production average vs usage rate, for example, it happened to the toilet paper and cleaning products industries too.

    • .40 cal Booger,

      The truth of the matter is that there is almost always a substantial cost to create and maintain excess manufacturing capacity. That being the case, why would a manufacturer invest in excess capacity which they will probably never use? (Why would anyone plan for widespread civil unrest in conjunction with a significantly deteriorating government regulatory forecast on top of a 100 year pandemic?)

      Imagine that you are married and have two children. Would you purchase a 12 bedroom home just in case you end up having nine more children–or in case you later decide to be foster parents for nine children? Most people would not purchase a home with that much extra “capacity” for a “just in case” scenario. Neither do manufacturers maintain a lot of extra capacity “just in case”.

      • even though they did not have the capability to sustain demand supply, and like you said why would they in terms of production they could not have predicted they would need, they could have just stopped trying to fill the demand and put limits on order quantities to buy time to bring production back up. Instead, they fed into the demand as much as they could at the cost of falling so far behind that now we end up in this shortage.

        the normal response for a company who has manufacturing based on production average vs average usage rate is to have reserve production capability of at least 10% minimum. A lot of manufacturers for various items don’t do this though. The ammo manufacturers have operated on the thin line of “just enough” for so long that its ended up costing them millions $$$, collectively as an industry billions $$$, suddenly to ramp up production to dig their selves out of a hole and that is going to result in a sustained higher cost for ammo for many years to come.

        Cost for excess manufacturing capability is not that great in the ammo industry. Its a few more lines, some supplies, some people maybe, and some machinery. Compared to their revenues and large scale supply responsibility the cost for that is minimal.

        If I had two children and could possibly have more, I would purchase a home with that in mind. I would have separate bedrooms for each of the two. And at least one other bedroom for the possibility in the future of having a third child and if that doesn’t work out we turn it into a hobby/utility room or something else. Then there is the master bedroom. So four bedrooms. But my point is, in terms of industry, the future possibilities should always be considered when making plans. Most industries say “yeah, we do this much today but what happens if demand goes up? What are our plans to handle that?” – The ammo industry had no such plans and even some of the manufacturers will admit they got caught with the figurative ” their pants down” because they had no such plans. The ammo industry became complacent and comfortable with “just enough”, they were happy with having that average shooter go to the range maybe a few times a month and fire maybe a a few hundred rounds per month max. You do not maintain an industry with “just enough”, you maintain an industry with capability to meet demand as it changes and the ammo industry didn’t do that.

  7. Wild is right. The very last thing we want is the damned government more involved in firearms and ammunition businesses, for two reasons: 1: The government the least competent people in our society can be found in government agencies. 2: Never assume the government has anyone’s best interest as the primary goal.

    • Correction.

      2: Never Assume the government has anyone’s everyone’s best worst interest as the primary goal.

      Reality hit’s home.

  8. It’s not the ammo companies. Blaming them has always been a distraction. The government is responsible for using many different ways to make ammo and guns cost more.
    Tennessee for example has a history of passing laws to make guns more expensive. They needed to make it harder for newly freed slaves to pay for a gun.

  9. Hey Guys, i’m making $4000 per month with this awesome home based system, enough for me to make a living.
    You don’t need to invest anything, It’s totally FREE! you just have to download it, here’s the link..

  10. It’s your responsiblity. You should have learned from the last ammo panic of 2012 to 2015. You should be buying ammo every month. One or two boxes at least. And when a place like Walmart decides to have a “fire sale on ammo” don’t tell me your refuse to spend money there.

    • My WalMart stopped selling ammo after California instituted its “instant background check” system for buying ammo that also required the vendors to be licensed as well. They stopped selling firearms years before that.

  11. .gov isn’t going to run out. they’ll appropriate it all if need be.
    and they’re not concerned about keeping us stocked.
    quite the opposite.

  12. As a professional economist, no. Absolutely not. There’s no conspiracy here and getting the government involved is the very last thing we need.

  13. You cannot tell me someone is not making money hand over foot when the price of surplus ammo 762×51 is almost a dollar a round depending on where you find it. During the pandemic it was reasonable but it went out of sight when other ammo was just beginning to come back.

  14. The idea that government is a solution for business problems is horrible. They are the biggest business of all and I want them to have minimal to no influence over the civilian ammo market.

    Red tape reduction to make ammo company sizing more dynamic to quickly recoup costs during demand surges is a far better idea imo.

    • The conspiracy theorist in me wants to call this guy a glowie because the government taking over ammo is a great way not to have ammo.

  15. I knew this was going to happen.
    “The Right To Bear Arms ”
    “bwhahaha.” Says the powers that be, ” what good are their gunms without bullets.”

  16. I used to enjoy recreational shooting whenever I got the chance. The ammo shortage and prices ended that. I haven’t been to a range in over a year. I’ve got just enough ammo for 2-3 magazines in each of my three pistols. It’s just-in-case now. For the time being, recreational shooting is over for me and to be honest, the situation has soured me on the whole industry and shooting as a hobby. I rarely even read forums like this anymore. Based on conversations I’ve had with others, I know I’m not alone. The minority of die-hard enthusiasts will pay whatever it takes. Many among the majority of owners, who are casual recreational shooters, may eventually get fed up and say “Fuck it. I need a new hobby”. They’ll keep what ammo they have for emergencies and stop shooting, as I have. In the long term, that won’t be good for the industry.

    • Pussies. I have been going through this cycle since the early 1990’s. This shortage will end and we will have some good years. Then there will be another crisis and another crunch. Buy during the good years so you have during the bad years.

      If manufacturers add massive capacity now what are they going to do with those buildings, machines, and employees when there is a change in administrations, the pandemic is over, and the riots are done?

      The only difference this time is that the dems may have figured out how to steal elections well enough that no one else ever wins won. But republican state legislatures are working to change their election laws to prevent that in the future.

  17. First of all the solution to any problem is always less government or no government. More government is never the answer. More government = more problems.

    Second, this is so last year. Ammo prices are back to 1.5 x pre pandemic and still falling. Supplies are increasing. Guns are on the shelf. The market is fairly saturated.

    Third, failure to prepare on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part. If you waited too late to buy guns and ammo and got caught in the supply crunch that is a personal problem and you have to suffer through it or deal with personally.

    Fourth, the high prices are actually a market mechanism to allocate the limited supply to those who need it most. Let the market do it’s thing and stop running to momma gov’s tit every time you don’t get your way.

    If there were fewer bars on entry into production, fewer rules and regulations, less stuff required by government to be provided to employees by employers, in short less government, then more companies would be entering the field or expanding. There is so much more to this than just buying more machines and components.

    Finally, if you are short on ammo there is plenty of it in cop cars, and guns too. They are definitely not using it on real criminals these days. You might even find a nice set of handcuffs for you and the wife.

    • I made a similar comment last night from a different device that’s still awaiting moderation. Every single comment I made was awaiting moderation for some reason. Someone that works here needs to address that problem.

      “More government = more problems.”

      The record transfer of wealth from the middle class to the ruling class and their buds that happened, and is STILL happening, wasn’t/isn’t because of everyone’s favorite excuse (COVID), it was only made possible due to government intervention. To add insult to injury, it’s being conducted under the cover of helping those in need. Had the government done nothing, Covid would have been a blip on the economic radar. Now we’re paying the price for the intervention, and as usual, they’re doubling down on stupid.

  18. the anti-guners best wish has come true…what good is a gun without ammo… ammo no shooting,GUN CONTROL.
    Its one of capitalism’s faults… 1945 there were 84 companies that made ammo…today just 14,ownd by
    two companies…….

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