The shortage comes just after one local business’ recent increase in gun and ammunition purchases.
Duhon Elson Gun and Hobby Shop owners Elson and Becky Duhon said the national shortage has affected their business, despite a recent influx of gun purchases in November through January of this year. The Duhons said their business is no longer a supply and demand operation; they sell customers what suppliers have to give.
“I don’t tell (the distributor) what I want; I ask her what she has and we have to take it, or we’re stuck with nothing,” Elson said. He said he has been in business for the past 25 years and has never seen a shortage in ammunition like the one that is happening across the country today.
“(It’s) never happened. Never before,” he said, adding that a recent surge in gun sales parallels that of after Hurricane Katrina. He said he has only seen gun shortages in his 25 years of business during the Clinton administration, when the ban on assault rifles was instituted.
Now, people who want to buy a specific type of gun could wait up to four months for the gun, and indefinitely for the ammunition.
“Assault rifle ammo is the hardest to find throughout the country,” Duhon said, adding “you might not be able to get it at all.” He said all ammunition is in low supply; he ordered five boxes of .40 caliber handgun ammunition and by lunch, that dwindled down to only two, which he said will be sold by the afternoon.
“There’s a shortage of everything, including magazines,” Duhon said.
Duhon explained the gun company Winchester went out of business and Olin is the new manufacturer of Winchester ammunition. “They went from working a regular business day to 24 hours a day to keep up (with the demand), and they can’t do it.”
Duhon’s wife Becky said the shortage has affected their business because customers are put on waiting lists, or are forced to buy something else.
“They can’t order guns, either,” Duhon said. “You have to just take what they have.” She added that bigger stores, like Wal-Mart or Academy might be able to buy more, but because more customers shop there, they sell out just as quick.
Duhon said the shortage in Vermilion is likely caused by the same source as the national shortage. She hypothesized that buyers all over the country and the state are anticipating stricter gun laws or higher taxes on ammunition to be imposed by the Obama administration, but added she hasn’t heard anything for certain about that yet.
“We (received) calls from Baton Rouge,” Duhon said. “People are going to have to wait three to four months for a gun.”
Duhon said assault weapon ammunition is the hardest to find, but handgun ammunition is also in short supply. “.338 (caliber ammo) -- nobody in the country has it,” she said.
A customer in Duhon’s shop who wished to remain anonymous was looking at purchasing a handgun for protection from break-ins. “My dad’s house was broken into,” she said. She told her son, who was with her, “I’m gonna shoot first and ask questions later.” Although the selection wasn’t what she had hoped for, she settled on a .40 caliber handgun, the gun that requires ammunition that Duhon only had two boxes of.
“If she wants both boxes, I can’t sell her both boxes,” Duhon said. “I have to sell one to her and the other one to someone else. They’ll both be gone today.”