Local law enforcement face ammo shortage as gun owners, DHS stock up

Local law enforcement agencies across the country are facing an ammo shortage, as gun owners concerned about new laws at the federal and state level stock up on firearms and bullets.

At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security has said it wants to buy more than 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition in the next four or five years -- which could put further strain on the supply.

The shortage, coupled with an increase in prices, comes as many gun owners head to the stores in anticipation of new gun control laws. States like Colorado and New York have already approved such legislation, while Democrats move toward bringing a bill to the Senate floor. At the moment, the congressional bill does not include an assault-weapons ban, but a ban is expected to be floated as an amendment.

Still, what one official described as "panic-buying" set in, as lawmakers rallied to draft new legislation in the wake of a series of tragic mass shootings last year, from Aurora, Colo., to Oak Creek, Wis., to Newtown, Conn.

In Tennessee's Hamilton County, the sheriff's department says its officers will be given fewer bullets when they train at the range.

"The concern over firearms availability and ammunition availability and potentials of gun control certainly has impacted the availability of ammunition purchased locally," training coordinator Jody Mays said, according to WDEF.

Earlier this year, Rollingwood Police Chief Dayne Pryor told MyFoxAustin.com that "panic-buying" is contributing to a situation where officers trying to order new firearms are being forced to wait. He said the city, which is outside Austin, has been told to expect wait times to purchase AR-15s and ammunition.

"We have adequate supplies right now, but we're limited to how often we can go to the firing range to train because we want to be conservative right now," he said.

Similarly, the Jenks Police Department in Oklahoma has faced rising ammo and assault weapons costs.

Police Chief Cameron Arthur said the department is still waiting on an order from October, according to KJRH.

Meanwhile, according to CNSNews.com, Rep. Timothy Huelskamp, R-Kan., said he still hasn't heard back from the Department of Homeland Security on why it's buying 1.6 billion rounds.

The Homeland Security Department, though, has said it needs the bullets for law enforcement agents in training and on duty.

Published federal notices about the ammo buy have agitated conspiracy theorists since the fall. The government's explanation is much less sinister.

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga., and others like it run by DHS use up to 15 million rounds a year, mostly on shooting ranges and in training exercises.

More than 90 federal agencies and 70,000 agents and officers used the department's training center last year.

The rest of the 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition would be purchased by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal government's second largest criminal investigative agency.

The Homeland Security ammo buy is not the first time the government's bullets purchases have sparked concerns on the Internet. The same thing happened last year when the Social Security Administration posted a notice that it was buying 174,000 hollow point bullets.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.