The coronavirus pandemic, along with the record sales of firearms, has led to a shortage of ammunition in the country. Events like the pandemic, a rise in violent crime, and social unrest have prompted millions of Americans to purchase guns to either shoot for sport or as a means of self-protection. 

The ammunition shortage has impacted law enforcement agencies as well as individuals who own guns. Manufacturers have stated they are producing as much ammunition as they can but given that gun sales have continued to soar across the US, many gun stores shelves are running empty and prices are steadily increasing. Further, although ammunition imports have increased, at least one American manufacturer is believed to be exporting ammo. 

Jason Wuestenberg, executive director of the National Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association, said, “We have had a number of firearms instructors cancel their registration to our courses because their agency was short on ammo or they were unable to find ammo to purchase.”

Doug Tangen, a firearms instructor at the police academy for the state of Washington, said the academy has found it challenging to obtain ammunition of late. Tangen said, “A few months ago, we were at a point where our shelves were nearly empty of 9mm ammunition.” In response to the shortage, instructors took steps to avoid wastage of ammo like reducing the total number of shots fired per drill. 

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System database that is maintained by the FBI also noted a surge in gun sales. In 2010, a total of 14.4 million background checks were conducted for gun purchases. This increased to 39.7 million in 2020, and to a whopping 22.2 million during the first six months of 2021. The actual number of firearms that have been sold could be much higher since multiple gun purchases can be linked to a sole background check.