Blaming the war for Police Ammo shortage Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, August 28, 2007
From Candice Rondeaux in the Washington Posttoday:
The U.S. military's soaring demand for small-arms ammunition, fueled by two wars abroad, has left domestic police agencies less able to quickly replenish their supplies, leading some to conserve rounds by cutting back on weapons training, police officials said.
Got that? Two wars are blamed for a shortage of ammunition for police forces in the US. That's the claim.
She builds her case:
"Before the war, lag time from order to delivery was three to four months; now it's six months to a year," said James Gutshall, property supervisor for the Loudoun Sheriff's Office. "I purchased as much as I could this year because I was worried it would be a problem."
Montgomery police began limiting the amount of ammunition available to officers on the practice range a little more than year ago, said Lucille Baur, a county police spokeswoman. The number of cases a group of officers can use in a training session has been cut from 10 to three.
Gene Voegtlin, legislative counsel for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), said dozens of chiefs at a meeting of the organization two weeks ago agreed that scarcity of ammunition is a widespread problem. He said rifle ammunition, which is used by the military and many police agencies, was a particular concern.
"It mostly has to with delays where it's impacting training more than anything else," Voegtlin said. "The chiefs are doing what they can to adjust to it."
And then to ensure you think she's done her "due dilligence", she tells of her contact with a major manufacturer of ammunition:
"What we're seeing is orders for law enforcement ammunition that have increased 40 percent in just the last year," said Brian Grace, a spokesman for Alliant Techsystems, a leading supplier for police departments across the country. The company plans a $5 million expansion to increase manufacturing capacity at two plants, he said.
Alliant, which operates the government's Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri, is the government's primary supplier of small-caliber ammunition. The company is also a leading supplier for police departments across the country. In April 2000, the Lake City plant had 650 employees and produced 350 million rounds a year, he said. Today, he said, it runs at full capacity 24 hours a day, employing 2,500 workers and producing 1.2 billion rounds a year.
Now there is a clue in there but it isn't an obvious one given the way this article is written. I've put it in bold. But here's the important part. What isn't said in the article.
Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee has been following this story line closely and has done a little digging himself, to include contacting the ammunition manufacturers himself.
Alliant, also known as ATK:
ATK's Ammunition Systems Group is the largest ammunition manufacturing body in the world. ATK runs the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant under contract, where it has the capacity to manufacture 1.5 billion rounds of ammunition a year, or put another way, a half billion rounds per year more than is being used by our military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is also a major supplier of law enforcement ammunition under Federal Premium, Speer Gold Dot, Lawman, and CCI Blazer brands. The law enforcement ammunition is made in plants in Idaho and Minnesota that are completely separate for their military operations at Lake City. These production lines do not, as the AP falsely states, use the same equipment used to manufacture military ammunition.
The AP story Owens is referring too is ran a few days back. Rondeaux, at WaPo, has apparently based her story on that AP blurb.
Owens contacted Brian Grace, of ATK's corporate communication to pursue the question.
Based upon this 40% increase in demand by law enforcement, is it more fair to categorize the difficulty of some departments in obtaining ammunition as a fact of increased police demand outstripping current manufacturing capabilities, and not as the result of the military needing more ammunition and drawing down civilian supply? Is their any shortage of lead, copper, or brass, or it is just a matter of not enough manufacturing equipment?
Manufacturing capacity is the main issue. As you might imagine, for a precision manufacturing business that faced many years of steady demand, it can be quite a challenge to suddenly meet double-digit growth in demand. But we're very proud of the successes we've had with increasing our output while maintaining the quality and reliability of our products.
And we're committed to doing everything in our power to accelerate the growth in output, which is what precipitated the recently announced investment in additional equipment.
Double digit increase in demand. Separate production lines. More demand from China and India for copper and lead. Draw your own conclusions, but given that info, it certainly is hard to argue that police forces are suffering ammo shortages only or even predominantly because of the military.
No troble, other than perhaps making me wonder why the increase in demand, and why a concern over RIFLE ammo.
Sorry, I don’t want them running around on a daily basis with long arms at the ready. I fail to see the change in society that would necessitate the increased demand, and increasing need for rifles (Terror alert level magenta aside...)
Damn, sorry looker, but I forgot the link (added) to the WaPo story, but in that, she actually covers the reason for the increased demand in rifle ammo (and, you assume, it is from that she concludes that the shortages then stem from the war and not the fact that demand has increased 40% by police).
Even as the military’s need for ammunition has soared, domestic police agencies have increased their firepower in light of catastrophes that once seemed unimaginable, including the terror attacks of 2001. Many departments have provided patrol officers with variations on the AR-15 and similar rifles that fire .223-caliber rounds — the same round fired by the military’s M-16 and M-4 assault rifles.
Amazing. Bob Owens utterly debunked the original AP story, and yet the viral meme is starting to spread throughout the MSM. In six months this myth will be an immortal "known fact" in political culture.
Even as the military’s need for ammunition has soared, domestic police agencies have increased their firepower in light of catastrophes that once seemed unimaginable, including the terror attacks of 2001.
Yes, because if there’s one lesson to be taken from 9/11, it’s that more-heavily-armed police could have stopped it. Yeesh. They’re buying the rifles because they’re flush with federal funds to do it, and the police aren’t going to use them primarily for the War on Terror, but for the War on Drugs. The dangerous militarization of the police, which has been covered previously on QandO, continues apace.
But then, we already know these things. It just needs to be repeated aloud, from time to time.
Thanks Bryan, that was where my thinking took me too.
I knew they’d have a reason why they think they need to be hauling rifles (and yes, I figured some AR-15 type) around with them now.
I really have a problem with that(and we won’t even discuss ’police’ afv’s). While I don’t always buy that ’if they have it, they’ll use it’ it troubles me that one cop can decide "this calls for my assault rifle! I ain’t never used it!". I know, scatter guns are already on board a lot of cruisers, but there’s a big difference. I keep thinking of that kid dead in Oklahoma when Barnie Fife shot at the snake and now I have visions of him with an AR-15 and an ammo box of .223 at his beck and call.
There was something to be said for Andy making sure that Barnie only had one round for his pistol, and I’d really rather think the semi-auto rifles are being kept in an armory for special issue, not in the daily patrol cars.
McQ, thanks for the link - 200,000 rounds of .223 on hand in DC for the department... okee-fine. I wonder what situation they’re thinking they might be left on their own to handle that’s going to require that kind of stockpile.
I’ll just add that I get ads in the mail occasionally from Midway USA, and it seems they’ve always got a sale of some sort going on ammunition; and they seem to have plenty of 9mm Luger, .223 Remington, and .308 Winchester. I would guess though that the folks pushing this story don’t get that sort of stuff in the mail...
Here in CA, the Highway Patrol began carrying Ruger Mini-14s probably 20 years ago, after a guy with a rifle pinned down an officier (worked out OK when the guy ran out of ammo). They later switched to ARs; Mini-14s did not handle long term service use as well.
LAPD obtained surplus M-16s (modified to semi auto) after the North Hollywood incident.
There are good arguments for ARs or similar, as opposed to shotguns and handguns. Longer range (not usually needed, but if you are the only officier there and it is needed . . .), ligher recoil (vice shotgun), and .223 is no more dangerous in residential areas than pistol/shotgun ammo. The .223 is better against body armor, etc.
I don’t have a problem with police using ARs, I only object to restrictions on us civilians carrying them . . .
I like XM193, which is just the civi version of M193 5.56 mm ball. I’m sure the police use it as well. It is loaded by Federal using LC brass. My understanding is that the same assembly line is used for civi and military production, the mil takes priority and us civis get the "overflow".