Many Americans sported ear-to-ear grins when they found a new gun under the tree on Christmas morning.

But with a nationwide ammunition shortage that has persisted for the past several years, there is a good chance a smaller, colorfully wrapped supplemental package containing bullets was not part of the best gift EVER.

With the Biden-Harris team primed to take over the reins of government on Jan. 20, there is genuine fear amongst Americans that this crew will live up to their promise to take away modern sporting rifles like the AR-15 and AK-47.

You can bet your last bullet that this is another campaign promise which simply isn’t going to happen.

Americans LOVE their AR platforms. Data compiled by the National Shooting Sports Foundation indicate we have purchased 19.8 million “modern sporting rifles” since 1990. The folks at NSSF also say 214 million new guns were made available to American consumers from 1991-2019.

High capacity magazines now in circulation is another interesting factoid provided by NSSF: There are 71.2 million pistol mags with 10-plus round capacity and 79.2 rifle clips capable of holding up to 30 rounds of ammo in the public domain.

“Americans clearly have a strong desire to purchase modern sporting rifles and other firearms for lawful purposes,” according to Joe Bartozzi, CEO of the NSSF.

Statistics from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives indicate there are 434 million firearms currentlyin possession of American citizens. With only 330 Americans, that’s a whole bunch o’ guns.

A modern sporting rifle like the AR-15 has a retail price in the neighborhood of $700-$2,000. Tricking your favorite gun out with quality optics can easily add another $1,000 to the gun’s value.

If the incoming Biden-Harris administration pushes a “give up your guns or else” law through Congress it will certainly face challenges which will end up in the Supreme Court.

A gun confiscation decision by SCOTUS several years from now is unlikely. A ruling along these lines is moot, anyway. A sizable percentage of law abiding citizens will become instant outlaws, this writer included.

A firearm is not a viable tool without ammunition. Several factors have put kinks in the ammo supply chain in recent years.

Rick Patterson of the Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturing Institute (SAAMI) told me in a phone interview earlier this week that ammo companies are “working at full capacity to keep up with consumer demand.”

Patterson said bullet making has been deemed an essential business, pretty much exempt from COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. But changing times have caused treasured American institutions like Marlin and Remington Arms to file bankruptcy, putting a crimp in ammo production.

“In 2018, ammo manufacturers produced 8.7 billion rounds for all gun calibers,” Patterson said. “Smaller businesses like Barnes Bullets are working around the clock to keep up with demand.”

But even a firearms industry insider like Patterson is facing a “batteries not included” pickle. Rick said he gifted himself a very expensive Italian over/under 20 gauge shotgun for Christmas, then went to a local shooting range to warm that baby up.

“The only 20 gauge rounds they had available were made by Nobel ammo, a European company,” Patterson said.

My advice for 2021? Don’t listen to William the Vain and buy gold. Spend your disposable income on guns and ammo—especially ammo. Durable goods are wise investments in these crazy times.

A gun with plenty of ammo is the gift that keeps on giving. Happy New Year, dear readers!

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at