SACRAMENTO, CA - A more than month-long shortage of ammunition is showing no sign of easing across the country.
"I'm over here today trying to buy .22's just because there's a shortage," said frequent target shooter Rhonda Calbreath of Davis, as she hoped to find a couple of boxes at the Just Guns store in Sacramento.
"We just came from a store down the road and they have no .22's and no .9's," said Calbreath, referring to .22-caliber and 9mm ammunition, two of those in shortest supply.
"And the prices are outrageous," she added.
Calbreath is just one of millions of target and recreation shooters across the county who are wondering why ammunition is so short and prices so high.
There is no shortage of speculation.
"The government, the military's buying everything up, Homeland Security's buying everything. I've heard that there's ammo sitting at the docks, but the President won't let it out," said Just Guns owner Josh Deaser, as he summarized some of the most commonly-held theories he hears from frustrated gun owners.
But government purchasing records show nothing out of the ordinary in recent months and years.
Ammunition makers insist they are working overtime to keep up with demand. And that may be the biggest reason, Deaser believes.
"I think there's just more people wanting to buy ammo then there is ammunition," Deaser said. "Especially this state, they want to ban everything, so it's like ok, people are afraid they're not gonna be able to get it again, so they're buying it."
But it's not just in California.
"I was in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago. Their Walmarts don't have anything. Texas doesn't have anything," customer Ron Holden said.
Deaser believes a new kind of customer is helping run up demand.
"We have a lot of new customers who before never thought about buying a gun," Deaser said.
Deaser said he's seeing many new entrants to the gun and ammo market who worry they may soon have to pay more for both - if they can get them at all.
"I actually had a conversation with a gentleman the other day who never wanted to buy a gun but who, because they're gonna ban 'em, bought an AR - well, he ended up buying two," said Deaser, referring to the AR-15 assault rifle.
For Calbreath, it's extremely frustrating.
"We like to shoot .22's, target practice, and do it pretty regular and it's not out there," Calbreath said.
And she sees a peculiar irony.
"They can buy a gun but they can't buy the ammo to shoot it with," she said.