Wastler says certain types of .22 shells are "non-existent" in his store, and that others, like 9 mm, and .40 and .45 caliber are "very, very short." So are replacements parts for guns, he says.
While there are proposals to ban assault weapons, outlaw certain types of armor-piercing bullets, restrict the number of rounds in magazines for some guns, and end online ammunition sales, Obama and leading anti-gun violence proponents on Capitol Hill have not proposed background checks for ammunition, or restricting the amount of sales.
The White House would not comment on the ammunition shortage, but Obama has asserted he is not out to infringe on Second Amendment rights.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., has introduced legislation that would effectively ban online sales of ammunition, would require ammunition sellers to have a license, and to report to federal authorities the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to a single person. But McCarthy also says on her website that protecting the Second Amendment right to bear arms for legal gun owners is one of her top priorities.
Her spokesman, Shams Tarek, says gun-rights advocates "are putting out this fear that people are trying to take away their guns, put really onerous restrictions on them, when that is not the case."
The run on ammunition comes amid Internet discussion about recent purchases of ammunition by the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration.
Homeland Security solicited bids for up to 1.1 billion rounds of ammunition for over the next five years, but agency spokesman Marsha Catron says purchases may not run that high, and that most of it would go to required training for about 130,000 armed federal agents in various agencies. The DHS ammunition purchases have been steady since 2009.
Last year, after the Social Security Administration solicited bids for 174,000 rounds of .357 ammunition, the agency got so many questions from the public about why it needed that powerful of a bullet that its inspector general's office put out a statement explaining why.
The Social Security Administration has 295 armed agents that protect offices around the country, and that ammunition is standard issue for the arms they carry on the job, the agency said.
"Our special agents need to be armed and trained appropriately," read the Social Security statement. "They not only investigate allegations of Social Security fraud, but they also are called to respond to threats against Social Security offices, employees and customers."
Bid winner for the Homeland Security ammunition was ATK Armament Systems, a division of Alliant Technosystems Inc., and a major supplier of guns and ammunition for the military.
According to a IBISWorld, a market analyst, ATK Armament is expected to post a 10 percent increase in revenue, to $1.7 billion, in 2013.
"While most Americans have cut back on their purchases of cars, clothing and other luxuries … gun enthusiasts are working themselves into a frenzy over what another four years under the Obama administration may hold for gun laws,'' IBISWorld reported in October. "As a result, they are purchasing firearms and ammunition at record rates.''
Greg Pacholczyk, who shoots everything from pistols to the AR-15 that the Obama administration wants to ban, says he is not in a frenzy, but that if he is in a store that carries ammunition, he looks to buy. The Marriottsville, Md., resident says AR-15 semi-automatic rifles are very hard to find for purchase, and that ammunition for it is hard to find, too.
"Gun replacement parts — if you have to find something as simple as a firing pin for an AR-15," it is very difficult, he says. "You read on the blogs people are practically giving away their first born for a little piece of metal."