Ammunition shortage brought to Senator Jerry Moran's attention in Pratt
Standing under a "Protected by the 2nd Amendment" sign and surrounded by personal protection devices, parts and accessories, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran seemed to play the role well of a politician supporting the best interests of his constituents on Oct. 7 in Pratt, but he had little to say about concerns of ammunition shortages voiced by Shooter's Corner gun shop manager and former Pratt Police Chief Gary Myers.
Moran kept more with his own agenda of going on record as a strong supporter of law enforcement officers in Kansas rather than address what is becoming more and more a concern for gun owners in Kansas - the rising prices and restricted availability of ammunition in the state.
"I thank all our officers for helping keep our communities safe. I will continue to support all law-enforcement officers across Kansas and work to provide the necessary resources to assist them in their mission to protect and serve," Moran said.
But after Myers explained that limited supplies and production cuts of gun parts, ammunition and components of bullets and shells was an ever-increasing problem, Moran said he was not aware of the problem.
"It's slim pickings out there," Myers said. "We used to be able to buy cases of ammunition for our customers who come here to Pratt from all over. Some come from Garden City, Hutchinson, even out-of-state because ammunition is getting very hard to find. Now we are only able to get a box here and a box there. Most places we order from are continually out of stock or are backlogged with orders six months to a year out."
Myers said that because Shooter's Corner is a licensed dealer of guns, gun parts and ammunition, they get first choice of stock from most dealers, but in 2020, bullets, shells and even parts to reload ammunition are harder and harder to come by. And prices for that which is available have almost tripled.
Moran asked if customers at the business were coming to buy guns and ammo in greater numbers because they were fearful of rioters or something else.
"Absolutely not," Myers said. "We have a lot of hunters in this area, plus our customers are simply concerned about their ability to be able to protect their homes, their families and their communities. We have no fear here, we just like to be able to access the rights that are promised us in the 2nd amendment. And we want to know why it seems the government may have a hand in bottlenecking the production of ammunition for our guns."
Moran said this was the first he had really heard of the problem and would do some looking into it.
"We want change for the better," he said. "Now tell me what's going on in the business community of Pratt, tell about how this community has fared in the pandemic."
Pratt Area Chamber of Commerce Director Kim DeClue told Senator Moran how the Pratt community was very supportive of their home-town businesses, and the local Chamber was proud to share that not one small business had been forced to close because of economic disaster during the COVID-19 shutdowns as dictated by the state.
"We have a very vibrant community here and we have supported our local businesses, as well as made use of the grants that were available. Pratt got over $12M, and we are thankful for that. It helped our businesses tremendously."
DeClue said there was concern among local business owners about employees who did not want to come back to work when they could get more from unemployment than they could make on the job, due to government aid.
Moran said he voted against the $600 unemployment benefits that were passed by state leaders earlier this year because of that reason, low work incentives, but agreed there were some people who were dependent on that money.
"When we did what we did, we thought this pandemic was going to be a short-term thing," he said.
Myers said that if he had known a pandemic was coming he would have stocked up more as the customer base for Shooter's Corner has continued to grow at a steady pace since the business's grand opening in December 2019.
"We have a great partnership between our shop and the local law enforcement and national guard in Pratt," Myers said.
Pratt County Sheriff Jimmy White told Senator Moran about special training that took place at the facility's indoor gun range, especially during bad weather.
City of Pratt Police Chief Nate Humble shared concerns about filling open positions on the police force and how it was a struggle to train and keep good officers.
"Defunding the police is definitely not the answer," he said.
Moran said he wanted to emphasize again that he was there to show support for all law enforcement officers.
"We are with you," he said. "You are our allies and friends. We are really trying to demonstrate that we support Kansas Law Enforcement."