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Shell-shocked

Vermont gunowners, living under the most liberal set of gun laws in America, aren't exempt from the current national ammunition shortage-in fact, they appear to be stockpiling weapons and bullets at rates greater than before Y2K or after 9-11. But the current "run" on ammo hasn't been triggered by fears of cyberspace mayhem or terrorist attacks-instead the current panic has erupted thanks to a raw material shortage that was worsened by fears of possible, sweeping U.S. anti-gun legislation.

Most Vermont gunshop owners we talked with agreed that public fears over the Obama administration's anti-gun stance are now driving the widening ammo shortage.

According to David Pidgeon, owner of Pidgeon's Gun Shop in New Haven since 1959, a shortage of raw materials, coupled with "Obama fears," are to blame.

British news sources, such as the Daily Telegraph, have reported recently that the Chinese government has been buying up and stockpiling materials used in the manufacture of weapons.

"None of my wholesalers have any ammo-and what they have is sold immediately on the day it comes to them. They've been limiting sales to five boxes per dealer. Recently, I have bought some cases containing various caliber bullets-a truckload. But it's small compared to what I usually purchase."

Pidgeon said he is running out of .380, 9mm, .40 S&W, .40 S&W and .45 ACP ammunition. And it doesn't look like he'll be able to replace what he has already sold any time soon.

"Even my shotgun shell quantities are below average although I can still get some turkey ammo for hunters," he said.

Pidgeon said ammo prices have increased 25 percent since February.

Are conservative political fears fueling the shortage?

"Well, it seems to me, in part, that the price of metals is driving this-the price of scrap has gone down," Pidgeon said. "Companies bought up raw materials, such as brass and lead, when the price was high; maybe by next fall there will be a reduction, but who knows?"

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