The Biden Administration is imposing new sanctions banning ammunition and firearms imported from Russia. It is hard to ignore the potential negative impact of this ammo ban. Here is the announcement from the U.S. State Department:
Russia Ammunition Import Ban
Pursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (the CBW Act), the United States will impose a second round of sanctions on the Russian Federation over its use of a “Novichok” nerve agent in the August 2020 poisoning of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny.
New sanctions imposed today under the CBW Act include:
- Restrictions on the permanent imports of certain Russian firearms. New and pending permit applications for the permanent importation of firearms and ammunition manufactured or located in Russia will be subject to a policy of denial.
- Additional Department of Commerce export restrictions on nuclear and missile-related goods and technology pursuant to the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.
I can't believe I have to start by saying this, but to satisfy the perpetually outraged, here goes. I am officially against using chemical or biological weapons against political opponents and their family members. Disagreeing with the ammo ban doesn’t mean I support attempted murder.
Now I'll move on to the actual story here.
On September 7th, the Biden administration will begin imposing the added sanctions listed above for a minimum of 12 months.
The sanctions can only be lifted after a 12-month period if the Executive Branch determines and certifies to Congress that Russia has met several conditions described in the CBW Act, 22 U.S.C. 5605(c), including (1) providing reliable assurances that it will not use chemical weapons in violation of international law, (2) it is not making preparations to use chemical weapons in the future, (3) it is willing to allow international inspectors to verify those assurances, and (4) it is making restitution to Mr. Navalny.
You can read the entire release here.
Some estimate that about 40% of the ammunition sold in the United States gets imported from Russia. So it doesn't take an economist to realize the implications of this sanction.
The unprecedented demand for ammunition coupled with the COVID-19 forced lockdowns of supply chains doubled ammunition prices. And that was when you could even find it. Ammunition is finally becoming more available, and the costs, while still exceptionally high, are lower than they were a few months ago.
But soon, that all may change.
I don't know how long it will take before gun owners see these sanctions impact ammo availability and prices. Of course, the President can extend the sanctions as long as he sees fit. I'm no genius, but I'm willing to bet the ammunition importation ban will not end as long as Joe Biden is in the White House. Why would it? It punishes Russia and American gun owners. It is a literal win-win for the administration.
In the Short Term:
In the short term, ammunition prices will likely go up, and availability will suffer. Making ammunition expensive and difficult to obtain may sound like an excellent plan for gun control. And it is, sorta'.
Making ammunition more expensive and harder to get doesn't reduce the number of guns people buy. This fact couldn't have been more evident during 2020 when Americans purchased an unprecedented number of guns, even while ammunition was nearly impossible to get.
However, reducing ammo availability makes everyone less safe. If gun owners can't afford to buy ammo or simply can't get it, how can they practice? Practice and training make people more proficient. Of course, not everyone will practice, but those who do are more proficient with the gun.
Anti-gun politicians are constantly screaming that states should require training for concealed carry licenses. However, adding insane ammunition costs or making ammo unavailable makes meeting this requirement more expensive or impossible. Hmmm, I am wondering if that is the whole point.
Another unintended consequence of extremely high ammunition cost is that more people will use target, full metal jacket (FMJ) rounds for self and home defense instead of appropriate hollow-point ammunition. For example, during the peek of the China-virus pandemic, I saw online threads where people described that they resorted to FMJ ammo for their everyday carry (EDC) gun. This trend is troubling.
A New York Police report mentioned in the New York Times explains why every law enforcement agency uses hollow-point and not full metal jacketed rounds. The information referenced in the absurdly titled “New York Police Will Start Using Deadlier Bullets” shows a high percentage of FMJ rounds fired by police passed through suspects and injured innocent people and other police officers. Hollow-point rounds did not do this to the same degree, making them safer for the general public, but not any “more deadly” than any other chunk of lead impacting the body at hundreds of feet-per-second.
Could the Import Ban Be Good?
Will forcing people to “buy American” be a good thing? Perhaps in the long run. I am all about supporting businesses that employ and make things here in the United States. But, of course, this assumes that U.S. ammunition makers can scale production to meet the demands and get the components to make ammunition. We saw one of the issues that created stress in ammunition production was trouble sourcing parts like primers.
JSC Murom Apparatus Producing Plant is a Russian company that supplies a significant percentage of primers to ammunition manufacturers. A ban on “ammunition components” from Russia could be the coups de gras of any hope for affordable ammunition.
- Anyhow, I hope I am entirely wrong about the impact of the sanctions on ammunition costs and availability.
Data on US Trade With Russia:
If you're curious, the United States has had a negative trade deficit with Russia since the 1990s. Before the government imposed forced lock-downs, the trade deficit was around 40 billion dollars. Since then, the trade deficit with Russia has jumped to about 75 billion.
The Beuro of Economic Analysis (BEA) shows the United States imported 123.53 million dollars worth of “arms and ammunition, parts and accessories” from Russia in 2020. For some context, arms and ammunition were 12th on the list of imports from Russia in 2020. The top three listed are:
- Mineral fuels, oils, distillation products $9.46B
- Pearls, precious stones, metals, coins $2.58B
- Iron and steel $940.12M
You can see all the figures reported by the BEA here.
Leverage Dryfire Practice:
Leveraging dryfire practice is incredibly important for anyone hoping to maintain skills while ammo prices remain high and availability suffers. I like using my SIRT laser training pistol and this LaserDot laser cartridge with shot recording software like LASR or Mantis Laser Academy.