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Friday, October 18, 2013

Nationwide ammunition shortage affects Nashua police; expected delays to get bullets

The heightened demand for ammunition across the country could keep the Nashua Police Department waiting up to 10 months to restock its supply.

The department recently solicited bids for its yearly purchase of firearms ammunition. The request for this fiscal year totals $48,537 – money pegged to come from the department’s supplies and materials budget. ...

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The heightened demand for ammunition across the country could keep the Nashua Police Department waiting up to 10 months to restock its supply.

The department recently solicited bids for its yearly purchase of firearms ammunition. The request for this fiscal year totals $48,537 – money pegged to come from the department’s supplies and materials budget.

The city received three bids, and the low bidder was Eagle Point Gun of Thorofare, N.J., the designated supplier for the state of New Hampshire, as well as Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and some other states.

Although some munitions could begin reaching the Nashua Police Department within a few months, Eagle Point’s owner said a nationwide supply crunch is keeping law enforcement officers around the country waiting to see their orders completely filled.

Eagle Point has informed Nashua police that it could be eight to 10 months before all its ammunition is available.

“There’s a chance it’d probably be quicker than that, but nobody wants to make a promise they can’t keep,” owner Thomas J. Morris III said.

Firearms, ammunition and accessories have all been in short supply in recent months, sapped by a frenzy of buying activity from gun enthusiasts who fear new government regulations could reduce their availability.

Nashua police faced the same predicament when they placed their order for ammunition last fiscal year. While a majority of the fiscal 2013 purchase has been filled, Nashua police Lt. Jay Maloney, who oversees the training division, said police are waiting on a few items.

“Certainly, in the last few years, we’ve grown more aware of a nationwide ammunition shortage, and we certainly take that into consideration when we plan our training and plan the supplies we’re going to need to get through the training,” Maloney said.

Maloney said the department is in good shape to continue training programs as scheduled. It has received nearly all training ammunition from the fiscal 2013 purchase, with the exception of a portion of the ammunition for rifles and sniper weapons used in the indoor shooting range. Maloney said delivery is anticipated in mid-
December.

The department is also waiting on some of the ammunition it ordered last fiscal year to replace the stock for in-service weapons.

The department placed supplemental orders from a supplier in Massachusetts a few months ago and also shifted some certification events to accommodate the short supply, Maloney said.

“Importantly, we’re getting in all our training – all our mandatory firearms training,” he said. “We have had to adjust our schedules to make sure we always have training ammunition on hand.”

The department is making a smaller handgun ammo purchase this year in light of the supplemental orders.

The bulk of the fiscal 2014 purchase is composed of 108,000 rounds of .40-caliber Smith & Wesson ammunition, totaling about $23,000. The department is also buying another 9,000 rounds of a lighter-weight .40-caliber bullet.

Some of the other items included in the bid include 12 cases of .308-caliber rifle ammunition, 30 cases of .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle ammunition, and 35 cases of 5.56mm ammunition.

Discussing the backlog, Morris said his company began seeing tighter supply from manufacturers as early as 2008, when President Barack Obama was first elected.

He said the problem was exacerbated by the fact that the federal government and the military are also buying supplies from some of the same manufacturers that supply police departments and recreational shooters.

However, the supply problem became especially acute after the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012.

The incident fueled speculation once again that new gun regulations would be enacted to make some types of firearms and ammunition illegal to own.

“Everybody was afraid that the government was going to try to take their rights,” said Morris, a former New Jersey prosecutor.

Building new plants to produce ammunition would take an investment of about one years’ time, Morris said, and manufacturers aren’t willing to take that gamble because they feel the demand will soon subside.

Morris said many people in the firearms industry believe the country’s “gun bubble” has already burst, and supplies likely will be more plentiful by early 2014.

He said Nashua police could begin seeing partial orders filled as early as one month from the date the order is placed.

“They ship it as they make it,” he said of the country’s major manufacturers.

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).