fly off shelves as buyers fret new administration
By Christian Hathaway
May 6, 2009 | Patrick Klomp isn't sure when the situation
will get any better. Standing with his arms extended,
palms facing up, before empty shelves at C-A-L Ranch,
he shakes his head.
Since November, American ammunition companies and
foreign competitors have been working at full capacity
to ensure stores have product on their shelves, but
supply cannot meet demand. "More ammo is walking out
of the store and being sold than is being produced,"
said Klomp, who has been a firearm salesman for more
than 11 years.
Co-worker, Scott Stiver said, "Instead of boxes, people
are buying cases and walking out with a thousand dollars
of ammo." Last Tuesday the store received a shipment
of 9mm ammo, the first of its kind in five weeks. The
first customer of the day wanted to buy every single
box, Stiver said. But a limit of two cases per customer
had been imposed.
C-A-L Ranch stores aren't the only ones unable to
acquire ammo. All the stores are in the same boat, Klomp
said. The store received a letter from Hornady, an American
manufacturer of ammunition, who said they would ship
product as soon as they could, but set no specific date.
"The E.T.A. (estimated time of arrival) column was left
blank, they can't tell us when," Stiver said. Ammunition
isn't the only thing disappearing off the shelves. Gun
sales have skyrocketed between 200 and 300 percent since
November, Klomp said. But he believes the current backlog
in ammo will cause sales to slow down again, as people
won't be able to find the ammunition they need.
Why all the fuss since November? Klomp suggests that
the increase in sales of guns and ammo is because of
the threat of changing guns laws. "President Obama doesn't
support concealed carry, and wants to micro-stamp ammunition,"
Klomp said clutching a printed fact sheet from gunbanobama.com.
"This would raise the cost of a single box of ammo
ten times," he said.
Compact handguns are the most popular type of gun
leaving the shelves at C-A-L Ranch. Many people are
in the market for concealed handguns because of the
sheer number of people now taking concealed weapons
courses in Utah, Klomp said. In order to purchase a
handgun you have to be over 21 and purchase it in your
resident state, he said.
Jack Sevison, Radar Navigator and B-52 Bombardier
during the Vietnam War, isn't convinced with the need
to go out and purchase additional firearms. I've had
guns for years but never had a reason to use them, he
said. "It's just other people putting the panic on and
people joining in," Sevison said.
Many first time shooters are buying guns out of fear
that they won't be able to purchase certain types soon,
Klomp said. "Before the last weapons ban, my mom purchased
an AK-47 assault rifle and her own handgun because she
believed in the right to own a gun," he said.
"Where the economy is in the toilet right now, firearms
for a lot of Americans is their security blanket," Stiver
said. He doesn't believe that limitations should apply
on what type of gun an American should be able to buy.
A semi-auto is just as deadly as a 12-gauge shotgun
or a deer hunting rifle, Stiver said. People that come
in here to buy AR rifles, also known as black rifles,
are using them as sporting guns, he said. Most guys
will buy a shotgun if they want some sort of defense
The laws they have right now are enough, Klomp said.
The background check does a good job and filters out
who should be able to buy guns. Klomp gave an example
saying that a man could come in and be denied for purchase
and then his wife could come in and they would be able
to catch that.
As a firearms dealer we have to show the serial number
of who we sold the gun to and do a background check,
all of which is on record in the store, Stiver said.
We are responsible for the weapons sold and are required
by state law to keep the sales records for 20 years,
One or two people every month get denied on the purchase
of a firearm out of about 250, Klomp said. It isn't
very often and "you get a vibe when you think someone
is going to be denied." If people don't answer the questions
on the form correctly we stop the sale right then, he
Sevison suggests that with such laws in commercial
stores people who do not qualify turn to alternative
sources, such as gun shows and private dealers to obtain
firearms. There are no more guns for private sale in
the paper, he said. Before November you would see them
all the time and now people are keeping hold of them,
or charging three-hundred dollars more, Sevison said.
We haven't seen the cost of weapons increase in our
store, Klomp said. But private salesmen are jacking
up their prices, he said. People have an obligation
not to sell a firearm to someone who doesn't seem trustworthy,
When asked about turning a semi-automatic rifle into
an automatic weapon, Stiver mentioned that all the National
Firearms Act rules still apply. If a person does that
he can end up in jail for 19 years, with up to a $500,000
fine, he said.
Stiver opposes a weapons ban because he believes a
lot of people just collect guns. "I have a bunch
and haven't even shot them." He laughed, saying
that they are a good investment and would never go down
in value like a car.
"During the Clinton weapons ban, I sold one of my
AR rifles and make a thousand dollars profit off it,"
said Klomp, who has been collecting guns since the age
Sevison's son is also a collector of weapons. He has
bought four or five guns since November and keeps them
locked up in a safe with a numbered combination and
lots of ammunition, said Sevison. "My son called me
just the other day and said -- you want an AK-47? I
have one down here for $550."
"You always joke about food storage, to have a gun
to keep the neighbors out," he said. But he don't know
what he, or anyone else, would realistically use such
a gun for.