"In 38 years I have never seen anything like this," says Kevin Hicks, owner of Hicks Gun Station north of Pinckneyville.
"People are driving an hour and a half for two boxes of ammo. I hope they start calling first before they come."
Hicks, owner of Hicks Trading Station in Pinckneyville, says the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since lawmakers last fall revived dialogue on banning assault weapons in Illinois.
“The supply of ammo has gotten worse,” said Hicks, whose family has collectively owned and operated the gun shop for nearly half a decade. “We can get all of the shotgun shells you want,” he said. “What we have trouble getting is 9mm, .45 ACP, .380, .223 and .308, .44 mag and .38 special ammo. Even the mountains of .22 caliber and .22 long rifle rounds have disappeared.”
Hicks said an ammunition distributor told him last week that the Federal Cartridge Co.—the nation’s leading ammunition manufacturer—currently has enough orders for the next two and a half years of production.
Hicks added that the problem is compounded by the government’s ammunition purchases.
“The government has purchased two billion rounds of ammunition that is contributing to the weak supply,” he said.
“You can’t believe how thin the shelves are.
“Pile the talk about conceal carry onto all this (and people think we are going to get it) and the demand gets bigger. I have never seen so many man/woman and young/old demands for guns.
“Somebody comes in and wants a Ruger LC9. I tell them I don’t have one. Then they ask, ‘well, what else do you have?’”
Hicks and the customer go down the line until he can find something the customer can be happy with.
“We saw this happen when Obama got elected in 2008, but it has gotten worse since he was re-elected in 2012 because people know he (Obama) doesn’t have to worry about re-election,” Hicks said.
Hicks said he found one source for several new guns last week and was going to pick them up last Friday.
Most of it has less to do with the Second Amendment or residents being armed to the teeth. Instead, the calls are coming from veterans who used the weapons in Vietnam or Afghanistan or collectors who have an appreciation for the art of gun smithing and want to add a specific gun to their collection.
“The calls I am getting are gun owners from, say, Effingham to Cairo and river-to-river.” Hicks said.
“It’s a false demand.”
A month ago he said he expected the demand to die down.
Page 2 of 2 - “But, it hasn’t,” said Hicks of the 50 to 75 calls a day his shop is getting on the availability of the most popular assault weapons — AR15s and AK47s.
Hicks said assault weapons are less than 10 percent of the store’s business. He said that typically there might be a dozen or more assault weapons in his inventory — but not now. They have been sold or spoken for.
“There is little or NO availability,” he said.
Similarly, it is almost impossible to find ammunition clips for these rifles.
“There is none available,” he said.
The law of supply and demand is driven by the current legislative discussions. Hicks said that typically assault rifles retail for between $750 and $1,200. Because of the large demand and short supply of assault rifles, many are now selling for between $1,000 and $2,000.