Steve Mullen: Where's all the ammo?

April 29, 2009

Steve Mullen - smullen@cdispatch.com

 

Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition. 

 

I always liked that phrase. Yes, the Lord should be praised. And ammunition is good too, especially if you have a gun. 

 

I have a gun, which is the easy part. The hard part is the ammunition.  

 

Walk into a gun store these days, and it looks like Walmart on the day after Thanksgiving. People are everywhere. The shelves are empty.  

 

Americans have the right to bear arms, and they''re doing a good job of it -- a much better job than me right now. 

 

 

 

Locked and unloaded 

 

My uncle has a farm in Madison County. He''s not a farmer, in that he''s not growing crops, unless a few blueberry bushes, some uncut hay, and a bunch of pine trees count. They''d all be growing anyway. To me, a farmer is someone who grows things on purpose. 

 

It''s a great place to visit. There''s a cabin with a few bedrooms and bunk beds. There''s a pond stocked with bass and bluegill (so I guess theoretically he''s a fish farmer). He has a few ATVs we tear around on. There are some strategically placed deer blinds and stands. 

 

I even pretended to work the last time I was there, clearing some brush with a machete. I did this not because brush needed to be cleared, but because I felt like swinging a machete a while.  

 

After the fishing and the riding and the pretending-to-work parts are done, the guns come out of the safe for a little target practice. Hunting rifles, pistols, shotguns.  

 

I have a pistol, which I love to shoot. It''s a replica .45 Colt single-action six-shooter, like the ones in the Western movies. Really nice looking, blue steel, with a walnut grip.  

 

It has been silent for months. 

 

For this I can only blame President Obama, or more specifically, the fear of him.  

 

Much hay has been made of a run on guns and ammunition since the presidential election. I''ve seen media reports that place the blame on fears that Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress will enact an assault weapons ban.  

 

In reality, forget about the assault weapons. You can''t find much ammo of any kind. 

 

 

 

Half-cocked reasons 

 

Most frustrating is that even if Obama and the Congress really wanted to "take our guns away," they wouldn''t want mine. It''s not an assault rifle. It can''t be converted to full automatic. Mexican drug cartels aren''t smuggling it across the border. It''s barely useful for personal protection. It''s not even good for hunting, unless you''re stumbling over a small critter -- "snakes and such," goes the great line from Clint Eastwood''s "Unforgiven."  

 

More likely targets are Coke cans or soft tomatoes, which are usually what I''m shooting at.  

 

Still, walk into any gun store and ask for .45 Colt rounds, as I did in Columbus recently, and see what happens. None, nada. Haven''t seen them for at least a month. The suppliers don''t have ''em.  

 

I''ve also been down to Bass Pro Shop in Pearl several times over the past several months. Even in this massive Taj Mahal of outdoor goods, it''s the same story each time: In the middle of the empty shelf, is the empty spot where my bullets should be. 

 

This is a pretty specific round, used pretty much in only old-model guns like mine. Modern guns use different .45 bullets. 

 

I''ve read lots of reasons why ammunition, in general, is in such short supply. One is that folks are stockpiling weapons and ammo out of fear that the Democrats will take them away. From what I''ve heard, assault rifles are fair game, but a cock-and-shoot Wyatt Earp? 

 

Another theory is that lots of ammo is being shipped overseas for war use. The Army hasn''t been using .45 cowboy rounds for many, many decades. 

 

From here the possibilities get more nefarious. The Department of Homeland Security is intercepting ammo shipments and buying them up for its own terrible uses. Or, ammo makers are intentionally creating a shortage to drive up prices. Now we''re getting somewhere. If Shell Oil can do it, why can''t Winchester?  

 

The real reason I can''t find a box of .45 slugs is the one that makes both the most sense, and the least sense. It''s that people are afraid that their guns will be taken from them, that restrictions will be placed on ammunition sales, and the larger fear that our "personal liberties" will be wrested from us.  

 

That also makes the least sense. Isn''t the Constitution in place to prevent such wresting, and hasn''t the Supreme Court come down on the side of gun ownership in case after case? (Still, anything can happen, some might argue.) 

 

What I''d like to see is the president come out and say: Relax. We don''t want the guns. Hey, you over there: Quit stocking the bomb shelter with cowboy rounds so Steve can get a box, for goodness'' sake. He has some tomatoes that need to be blown to Salsa Heaven. 

 

Not that anyone would listen, or believe him if they did.  

 

Steve Mullen is the managing editor of The Commercial Dispatch. His e-mail address is smullen@cdispatch.com.

Steve Mullen is Managing Editor of The Dispatch.