June 2014

Down Range: June 2014

$1B in ammo; I'll take it


I’ve learned that the Pentagon is set to destroy more than $1 billion worth of excess or surplus ammo. But I have good news! There’s no need to do that: I’ll take it. Okay, okay, not all $1 billion. But because I’m a helpful guy, I’ll take $100 million. That should fill the Gun Tests ammo depot for a year, maybe 18 months if we’re careful.

Apparently, despite years of effort, the Army, Navy and Air Force still don’t have an efficient process for doing something as basic as sharing excess rounds. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report clearly shows that our military’s antiquated systems lead to millions of dollars in wasteful ammunition purchases.

The GAO report also said the services have inventory systems for ammunition that cannot share data directly, despite working for decades to develop a single database. Only the Army uses the standard Pentagon format; the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps operate with formats that are obsolete. The services hold an annual conference to share information about surplus ammunition and swap bullets and other munitions as needed. Data about ammunition left over after the meeting disappears from the books, resulting in an unknown amount of good bullets headed to the scrap heap.

Of course, what chaps a shooter’s cheeks about this is the government wasting ammo — destroying it! — when commercial availability has been so tight and prices are still higher than we like.

Roll Tide. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Board voted unanimously to repeal the prohibition on using a suppressor while hunting in the state. This change will likely take effect in late June. Currently, more than 30 states allow hunters to use suppressors while hunting.

Campaign to Reload. Two anti-gun groups, Campaign to Unload and States United to Prevent Gun Violence, have launched a campaign to wipe out gun manufacturers from 401(k) portfolios. Unloadyour401k.com was launched on April 30. It represents a backdoor attack on gun rights by attempting to influence the valuation of publicly traded firearms and ammunition-related stocks. The effort seeks to have investment firms remove publicly held firearms companies from their portfolios: Sturm Ruger (RGR), Smith & Wesson (SWHC), and Olin (OLN). Nearly $2 billion mutual fund dollars are invested in the nation’s three largest gun manufacturers.

If it’s not a conflict of interest for me to buy stocks I report on, I think I’ll reconfigure the bottom 10 percent of my 401(k) to buy RGR, SWHC, and OLN. Because the three companies being targeted by “Unload” have record earnings the past few years, I think my “Reload” strategy will pay dividends. Hopefully, lots of them.GT