WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — While the demand for guns is cooling off, sellers say there is still a nationwide shortage of ammunition, and it's unclear when inventory will return to normal.
The owner of Guns and Range Training Center in West Palm Beach said most gun sales during the COVID-19 pandemic have been to first-time buyers, making up 80% of sales.
Gun owner Rita Gonzalez is no beginner, and this year she has helped many of her friends become first-time gun owners.
"Just with everything going on and stuff, they just feel safer having them," Gonzalez said. "It's like my happy place. I go. I shoot. I release stress. I like it."
However, lately, she has been going to the shooting range less.
"I'm afraid to use my ammo because it's been almost impossible to find," Gonzalez said.
Guns and Range Training Center owner Alex Shkop said he has never seen a year like this in the gun industry.
"The supply line broke, and also the demand went through the roof," Shkop said.
Smith and Wesson reports that more than 8 million people nationwide got their first guns in the last year. Gun sales tend to spike in election years, according to data from previous years.
Shkop attributes the rush for guns to the pandemic and the shutdowns to manufacturing, causing a lack of inventory and ammo.
"You cannot find ammo, so even when we have ammo or other people have ammo, they are restricting how much you can buy because they are trying to make it last," Shkop said.
He said he has been looking to other suppliers to fill the void.
"Most of it is not U.S.-made, so they've been getting ammo from Europe, and other places, so we’re beginning to turn to those sources," Shkop said.
Now, it is a game of catch-up, and there is no end in sight.
"We have no explanation for lack of inventory. When we talk to the suppliers, supposedly, factories are working, and they try to knock stuff out. But there's nothing coming in, and we have severe shortages, ammo especially," Shkop said.
He said gun dealers will be in the dark about inventory for a while longer.
"The hole is deep enough where it will take a long time for everything to catch up with supply chains," Shkop said.
This story was originally published by Michelle Quesada on WPTV in Palm Beach, Florida.