Ammunition: Expensive & In Short Supply
Benton County Sheriff's Deputies are digging into their own pockets to pay for something you think would come with the job -- ammunition.
The sheriff's department says it's seeing price hikes and shortages of ammunition since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut last December. Although not a public safety issue with officers on the streets who carry enough ammunition, it's the training that's getting tougher to sustain.
The Edwards Range is where Benton County Sheriff's Officers train. It was only last year that they had three to six trainings and possibly more. But this year that's being cut in half.
Deputy Joe Lusignan law enforcement is involved in practice training exercises several times a year.
"Before we were issued a box of ammo each month so we could practice on our own. We no longer get that, simply because the ammo is not available," says Lusignan.
It's a story we have heard from all over the country. Ammunition is in short supply, including widely used varieties such as the 40 caliber bullet for the Smith and Wesson used in police training. And for popular rounds such as 9mm, it's also getting harder to find.
Captain Clay Vannoy says he's seen this coming for some time.
"Along with these tragic incidents that happen, the fear of what's going to happen with the government comes into play, and people react to that," says Vannoy.
A 50 round box of 40-calibre bullets costs about $30. Deputies who want to be proficient can spend about $1,000 out of their own pocket each year.
Vannoy says says the department has begun to rely more on what's called "simunition", a cheaper alternative training ammunition, similiar to what you would use to play paintball.
"They are a wax painted cartridge, used with regular weapons and when they hit, they leave a little paint mark," says Vannoy.
In 2012 the department had a budget of $24, 000 for weapons and ammunition. But with the demand increasing, suppliers are also raising their prices.
"From a law enforcement prospective, our own vendor next month will be raising prices about 30 percent," says Vannoy.
"I think as long as the gun control issue is dominating the media and dominating our country, it's going to get worse. The rounds will be fewer to find," says Lusignan.