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On December 31, a century-old Missouri smelter will shut its doors. The occasion will further propel a bizarre conspiracy theory in which an "anti-gun" Obama administration is buying up and eradicating bullet supplies.

Paula Cartwright is a "lifelong gun owner" and part-time employee at Triggers, a gun shop in the US state of Wyoming. Gun ownership in Wyoming is among the highest in the US. As such, the 41-year-old clerk has been on the front lines, so to speak, as ammunition prices have simultaneously spiked in price and disappeared from her shelves.

"Everybody is stocking up on ammo," she told DW. "We don't have any .380 ammo, and we can't keep .22 long rifles on the shelf. Right now we have four little boxes of [.22 long rifle ammunition], and that's highly unusual." Typically, her shelves would be piled with them.

For gun owners, bullets can still be found and purchased - but at prices that have led some to speculate of a "bullet bubble." At the online platform of the popular American magazine Guns and Ammo, a forum thread in December entitled "The last person to post in this thread wins a brick of .22 ammo" quickly prompted a reply that no one would win, since, "At the present prices, nobody can afford to put up a brick of .22 as the prize."

A number of factors influence the high price of bullets, but in 2013 it stemmed largely from a single theory proposed on a fringe conspiracy website that gained an astonishing amount of traction. Over the course of this year, the theory prompted a Congressional investigation, a legislative proposal known as the AMMO Act of 2013, and it forced the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to publicly deny that it was "stockpiling" ammunition.

More: US gun owners shoot themselves in the foot | World | DW.DE | 31.12.2013
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