CALDWELL, Idaho — Recent events and the pandemic have fueled a shortage of firearms and ammunition as people find empty shelves at local gun stores.
The demand began around the time the pandemic started, and in 2020, the FBI conducted nearly 40 million background checks for firearms that's the most they've ever done, and ten million more than the number of background checks in 2019.
We checked in with Al's Pawn & Gun in Caldwell to see how they are dealing with the high demand and dwindling supply of firearms and ammo.
"I hate to say it, but we say no more than we say we have it in stock or can get it," said Jason Heck the owner of Al's Pawn & Gun. "Ammo shortage is a nationwide thing right now."
The pandemic also affected the supply as production slowed during the shutdown and manufacturers had a difficult time catching up and getting people to return to work.
"Ammo manufacturers are trying to produce ammo, but with so many new gun buyers who have never bought a gun and current gun owners the ammo shortage is real," said Heck. "Manufacturers are talking at least summer before they catch up if that."
According to the Firearm Trade Industry Trade Association, in the first six months of 2020, 40 percent of the sales were from people who were purchasing their first gun.
Al's Pawn & Gun also sells gun safes and Heck tells us that those have been in high demand as well.
“The increase of safe sales is through the roof," said Heck. "That’s a good thing because we are seeing people locking their stuff up safely and securely," said Heck.
There are other factors in this equation as well, most Americans have received their stimulus checks and current times has people worried about safety in the future.
Ammo can be found in the secondary resale market, but consumers can expect to pay two or three times the normal price for ammo.
Heck told us ammo manufacturers are raising their prices, but before that many stores increased the price as well because the demand was so high, but Al's decided not to do that.
“We want people to remember that they came here and bought it at the standard price," said Heck. "It stayed that way, and we didn't raise it because of the demand.”
But that also means the ammo shelf at Al's is almost empty because when a shipment arrives that ammo is flying off the shelves almost as quickly as it comes in.
Al's has a few handguns, some rifles and some shotguns, but Heck did tell us finding something like an AR or other special order guns are really hard to find right now.