A Government Stimulus That Works The Gun and Ammo Industry Is Booming

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FLORENCE – Every day, Darren Newsom’s three Bitterroot Valley Ammunition facilities crank out 300,000 rounds of ammunition.

It’s not nearly enough.

“I’m going about 100,000 rounds in the wrong direction every day,” Newsom said. “We probably have about six months of back orders right now.” Newsom has been in the ammunition manufacturing business for more than 20 years and he’s never seen demand this high.

Fearful of the Obama administration’s potential to tighten gun control laws, people from all over the country are stocking up on guns and ammunition.

“I went through the Clinton years and there was a bit of a scare then,” Newsom said. “This is like the Clinton years on steroids. On the day of the election, our phones started going nuts. It hasn’t stopped since.”

As a master distributor for ATK – the world’s largest ammunition business – Bitterroot Valley Ammunition supplies other ammunition manufacturers around the country with the components needed to make bullets.

“I get a million primers in every other day and most are shipped out the very next day,” he said. “I have 100 million primers on back order right now. We just can’t get enough of them.”

At a recent gun show in Salt Lake City, Newsom sold somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 rounds in the first two hours.

“It’s just unreal,” he said. “Somewhere in lots of basements around the country, there are millions of rounds of ammunition being stored.”

Local businesses have felt the ammunition shortage.

At Bob Ward’s in Hamilton, Mike Matteson said there has been quite a run on ammunition and reloading supplies like bullets and powder since the election.

“We are especially low right now with pistol ammunition,” Matteson said. “There are four or five calibers that we don’t even have on our shelves.”

Matteson said he didn’t believe manufacturers were prepared for the panic buying that’s occurred since the election.

“They tell us that they’re months behind on some calibers – .22 ammo is really tough to come by,” he said. “Our gun sales are up somewhere between 30 (percent) to 35 percent or better. A good percentage of those sales are pistols.”

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May 29, 2009