Runs on ammunition have left demand far higher than supply across the country in recent months. Ammunition on store shelves across the state and country have been bought within an hour of arrival and many store owners were given murky ideas about when their ammunition will arrive, reported a Feb. 24 article in The Minot Daily News.
The runs and personal stockpiling are largely due to political rhetoric and, as the U.S. Senate voted for cloture of a Republican filibuster on continuing debates for gun regulations Thursday morning, the issue will continue to be a dividing one as the bills come together over debate in the coming weeks.
"There are a lot of people trying to buy ammunition who have ammunition and they're just trying to make sure they have it," said Steve Kukowski, the sheriff for Ward County. He said the department buys enough in advance that they're nearly assured to have it despite the "shortage/hoarding" situation found in the broader market.
Capt. John Klug of the Minot Police Department shows the well stocked storage lockers where the police house their ammunition. The department plans well in advance to be assured of having necessary supplies in the following years.
Two recruits to the Minot Police Department, who just began work, practice for their initial qualification at the department’s outdoor range.
Spent ammo in the Minot Police Department storage area is collected regularly in order to send back to suppliers for credit.
"They tell you that your supply is six to eight months out. Our order is already in so we're about 15 months out," Kukowski said of the department's order for next year. "So, we're kind of ahead of the game. If their word is true, then we'll have our supply when needed."
"So far we haven't seen any problems," said Capt. John Klug, the head of administration at the Minot Police Department. "We order two years ahead of time all the time so we know that we have to plan ... We have the money and the budget, it's just a matter of placing the order."
Both the police department and sheriff's department carry the same types of ammo. For the standard sidearms, both allow for 9 mm and .45-caliber, although the sheriff's office, at least, allowed for more types in the past. When the department got down to a single deputy carrying a revolver, though, budgeting limitations forced them to allow for only those two types. Both also carry shotguns and .223- caliber rifles in their vehicles, including the AR-15 rifle for the police department. That is the controversial rifle that has become the poster-child for the gun debate.
Sheriff Steve Kukowski weighs in on the national gun debate
"Personally, I think we need some sort of background check. All these people who have committed these atrocities all have been mentally unstable and I think we need to look at that," Kukowski said.
He also said that events like Sandy Hook have understandably turned the debate around to an emotional level and that he feels for the people affected.
"Here was an individual who obviously had problems that were noted by other people and family. They just didn't lock things up or give them to another relative to secure. You know, keep it away from him," he said. "And the problem is, who wants to say that someone is so mentally incompetent that they can't have one. Am I to say that you can't? Who makes that decision? It's tough. It's very tough.
"The firearm itself does no killing, the ammunition itself does no killing; the individual with the firearm and the ammunition does the killing. That's why we need to look at the individual more than the tangible items."
"We carry them in every car so we maintain some stock of that as well so we can keep everything outfitted with ammunition," Klug said. "Otherwise, a gun doesn't do as much good."
"So it's almost like we're planning 'where do we need to be in two years, what do we need?' Because we know how much we have now and we know how long that will last," Klug said. "So you can kind of say we keep our storage at about that two-year time it will take us to burn through but nobody can tell; a lot of it is practice and some of it is what we carry for duty so it varies."
It isn't that difficult for them to budget for the various types of ammunition needed in the future. Each department will have to budget for the three yearly qualifications, a set amount of practice ammunition allotted to each officer per month, with some extra.
"It's required by state law that we sidearm certify every year. To keep our post-training up to standard," Kukowski said. Both departments hold a winter, night, and summer qualification. Kukowski estimates that his department will go through more than 10,000 rounds for each event. The deputies are each also allotted 100 rounds per month for practice."