A 2020 study tracking gun ownership in all 50 states shows an estimated 55% of South Dakotans have a gun in their home.
Across the country, there has been a months-long shortage of ammunition that has many of South Dakota’s gun owners concerned.
Mark Blote is the owner of First Stop Gun & Coin in Rapid City. He says some of the rumors floating around about the ammunition shortage are untrue.
“Well, you know, I guess you're hearing some people say that they think the government is
stockpiling the ammunition or that the manufacturers are holding back production, things like that. I don't think that's true at all.”
Ammunition manufacturers say rumors like this are nothing new. Jeff Hoffman is the owner of Black Hills Ammunition.
“We've seen this numerous times before, on an average of about every five to eight years, something will happen that causes gun owners to be concerned and to buy additional guns and ammunition … I assure you that there's no conspiracy to hold back ammunition, and there's no government involvement in buying up ammunition or trying to short the supply of ammunition.”
Hoffman says manufacturers are running at full capacity to try and meet this need.
Gun shop owner Mark Blote says what is driving the shortage is much less conspiratorial.
“A big driver of that is the fact that there are 7 million new shooters that weren't gun people at all that have come into the market, and like the president of the federal Ammunition Company said, ‘if each one of them shoots two boxes of ammunition, that's 700 million rounds ammunition.’”
Many, including Blote, have also attributed uncertainty about the future as a key cause to the shortage.
“I think people are hoarding it. I think people are concerned about, you know, rioting and
unrest and the unknown and, because of that, you know, they want to have some ammo put aside just to be safe.”
Ammunition manufacturer Jeff Hoffman agrees.
“People see the rioting and the unrest happening... the businesses being looted... and they're concerned about that, and that is a factor in driving them to purchase additional ammunition.”
Both Hoffman and Blote compare the empty ammunition shelves to toilet paper during the early days of the pandemic. When supply is low and demand is high, consumers stock up out of concern for the future, and some opportunists come in to make some extra cash on the secondary market.