This Thing Called Courage

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Scary: Nation's Bullet Makers Can't Keep Up With Demand


By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
Posted on September 28, 2009, Printed on September 29, 2009

This post originally appeared in PEEK.

So here's a disconcerting little headline. From the Associated Press (via the Houston Chronicle): Bullet makers can't keep up with demand

Bullet-makers are working around the clock, seven days a week, and still can’t keep up with the nation’s demand for ammunition.
Shooting ranges, gun dealers and bullet manufacturers say they have never seen such shortages. Bullets, especially for handguns, have been scarce for months because gun enthusiasts are stocking up on ammo, in part because they fear President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress will pass antigun legislation -- even though nothing specific has been proposed and the president last month signed a law allowing people to carry loaded guns in national parks.

According to the article, "gun sales spiked when it became clear Obama would be elected a year ago and purchases continued to rise in his first few months of office. The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System reported that 6.1 million background checks for gun sales were issued from January to May, an increase of 25.6 percent from the same period the year before."

This is only the latest news report showing a rise in demand for guns and ammo since Obama took office. But the president didn't accomplish this on his own; a good deal of credit goes to the gun lobby, which has always relied on fearmongering and paranoia as critical parts of its strategic arsenal. In its propaganda campaign in the run-up to the 2008 election, the NRA portrayed Obama as the most anti-gun candidate in the history of the republic.

"Never in NRA's history have we faced a presidential candidate ... with such a deep-rooted hatred of firearm freedoms," read a letter sent out last August. The mailing purported to lay out "Obama's Ten Point Plan to 'Change' The Second Amendment," despite the fact that the "points" did not match Obama's campaign positions on guns. One of them was a ridiculous claim charging that Obama plans to "close 90 percent of the gun shops in America."

So perhaps it's no surprise that gun enthusiasts are behaving like colonists under siege. "I call it the Obama effect," one Louisiana gun dealer said, adding, “It always happens when the Democrats get in office."

But more than one dealer described the current situation as unprecedented.

"We are working overtime and still can’t keep up with the demand,” said Al Russo, spokesman for North Carolina-based Remington Arms Company, which makes bullets for rifles, handguns and shotguns. “We’ve had to add a fourth shift and go 24-7. It’s a phenomenon that I have not seen before in my 30 years in the business.”

It's hard not to be alarmed by such statements given the collective, apoplectic rage that has been directed at Obama -- and anyone perceived to support his policies -- not to mention the well-publicized tea-baggers who have shown up at rallies packing heat. Yet Congress seems to be too firmly in the grip of the gun lobby to waste much time worrying about this. Just this month, the Senate voted to force Amtrak to allow its passengers "to carry unloaded and locked handguns in checked baggage, even though Amtrak officials had raised concerns that the proposal could present 'numerous challenges,'" according to the New York Times. Under the legislation, "Amtrak would lose the funds earmarked for it in the must-pass spending bill if it did not comply with the new regulations."

The Houston Chronicle has more.

Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and World Special Coverage.

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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