In the world's most heavily armed nation, bullets are in short supply.
Gun shops have empty shelves. Stampedes mark the opening of gun shows. Rising prices are forcing police to bust their budgets. Some have cut back on shooting practice.
The ammo industry says factories are running wide open but simply can't keep up with a demand - particularly for handgun calibers - that spiked with the November elections, and just kept going.
Robert House, owner of Classic Firearms in Virginia Beach, has been selling guns and ammo in Hampton Roads for 30 years. From time to time, popular guns have been hard to keep in stock. But ammunition?
"I've never seen anything like this," House said. "There have been fistfights at gun shows over the last box of ammunition."
Rumors swirl about the shortage.
Yes, it's true that booming metal markets in China and India are consuming boatloads of brass, copper and lead.
No, it's not true that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are cutting into the civilian bullet supply. The Army says most of its small-arms ammo comes from a dedicated factory in Missouri.
Instead, blame politics, and the thoroughness of the Democratic victory in November. Gun owners have long viewed Democrats as enemies of the Second Amendment. With that party now in control of the White House and both branches of Congress: "People think they'd better buy while they can," said Ron Hess, a long time Norfolk gun shop owner. "Gun owners just figure that Democrats make screwed-up gun laws." ...