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Small Police Departments Feeling Squeeze Of Skyrocketing Ammo Prices, If They Can Find Some

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A record demand for guns because of the pandemic is leading to an incredible demand for ammo. And it's not just individual gun owners searching high and low.

"Record number. Like 8 million guns were sold in the last year since COVID-19 started," said Oscar Suarez.

And they go hand in hand or, you know, bullet to barrel.

The shelves at Bill Boyd's Tackle, Gunshop & Range in Fort Lauderdale are almost bare of ammunition.

Suarez said gun owners have made a run on ammunition, creating a supply and demand issue.

And if you can find rounds, it'll cost you.

"It's tripled in price, maybe quadrupled in price. Last year the price of 50 round box of 9mm was only $14. Now, it's up to a dollar a round, 50 bucks for 50-rounds," Suarez said.

Few might think about it, but the trickle down has hit local police departments, which are outfitted with pistols, long guns and ammunition as a part of daily operations.

Getting ammo is like putting together a puzzle.

"For some of the heavy weight departments, the big guys, it's not that big of deal budget wise," said El Portal Police Department Chief David Magnusson. "But for someone in the bantam weight department, such as us, it is a big deal."

Chief Magnusson has to be creative in finding and ordering ammo, because the wait on an order can be 6-7 months.

The expense has tripled, and there's been some shady occurrences when ordering ammo.

One order never made it El Portal.

"They rushed out the next shipment. And when I say rushed, they did rush it out. Within the next month, here comes the other one. It's missing boxes inside. Nothing to do with us, but from point A to Point B it's a hot commodity," he said.

With the challenges of getting the ammo his department needs, it sheds light on another problem.

No ammo means no state mandated range training.

"If you figure out how many magazines to keep it filled and go to the range and fire a course, even if you fire cold without really training before, just fire out there to pass the state course, you're talking for everyone in this department, and it's a small department, a lot of money," he said.

Chief Magnusson says his officers are fully supplied to work the streets, but it's the future of unknowns that worries him. Especially if absence of ammo reaches a critical level.

"When cost starts getting in the way and people start taking shortcuts, it's not a good thing," he said.

The chief believes, and gun shop owners around the country would agree, it's going to be a long time before supply outweighs the demand. It could be over a year before there's any relief.

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