Blame it on the former president's war or blame it on the new president's presidency, but in the supply versus demand tug-of-war over firearm ammunition in Durango, demand is winning - by a lot.
To be sure, there is no shortage of firearms in Durango. A wide range of semiautomatic assault rifles, handguns and shotguns can be found in abundance at stores throughout town. Trying to find bullets for those guns, however, is proving difficult, if not impossible.
For a Farmington resident who stopped by Big 5 Sporting Goods store Thursday and who would identify himself only as "Victor," the answer to the shortage lies in Washington, D.C.
"They might not be able to take our guns, so they're doing their best to take our ammo," Victor said.
What Victor found were semi-bare shelves at every other store selling ammunition in town. The same bullets and shells that less than a year ago were available in almost limitless quantities have become as difficult to buy as if they were illegal.
Locals most affected point to two possible explanations for the run on bullets: The military is using hundreds of millions of rounds annually in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan - which shorts supplies for civilians and law enforcement - and the election of President Barack Obama as a direct threat to personal gun ownership.
Victor described himself as a hunter and "red-blooded American who'd like to keep my amendments the way they are."
"I hate to say it, but yeah, I'm stockpiling," he said.
Calls to leading manufacturers Remington, Winchester and Federal were not returned, but local retailers and law enforcement agree the difficulties center on 9 mm, .40-caliber, .45-caliber, .223-caliber and 7.62x39 mm, commonly known as the "NATO round."
The NATO bullets are most commonly used in AK-47s and similar former Communist bloc-era assault rifles.
"The biggest thing we're running into is the perception that there won't be access to certain guns - whether that proves true or not, time will tell. And to a certain degree, perception is reality," said Gardenswartz Sporting Goods Manager Brian Hessling.
Hessling said the shortage has not affected the store's supply of standard hunting ammunition, including shotgun shells and 7 mm, .30-30 and .30-06 hunting-rifle bullets.
"But we're flat out of the popular handgun ammo, and our suppliers haven't given us a timetable of when it will get back to normal," he said.
For Jane Gustafson, owner of Goods for the Woods in the Centennial Center, there is no debate as to the cause of the shortage. Her store sells guns, ammunition and reloading supplies, which allow shooters to recycle gun casings with new bullets. She said she and millions of others believe Obama will reinstate President Bill Clinton's Federal Assault Weapons Ban which sunsetted after 10 years in 2004, during the George W. Bush administration.
"We now have a socialist running our country, and those of us who stand for what America was started for are going to be prepared for the worst," Gustafson said. "It's all about where the country is heading, and the people who don't like it aren't going to give up. At least not out here in the West."
The sparsest of the ammunition is that most used by local law enforcement. While both the Durango Police Department and the La Plata County Sheriff's Office have been inconvenienced by the shortage, neither agency has had to go without.
Durango Police Capt. Micki Browning and Sheriff Duke Schirard said they order ammunition in bulk and have had to place orders earlier and wait longer for delivery.
Each agency's sidearm of choice is the .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol, and both also use the .223-caliber military rounds for patrol rifles.
"It's out there, but it takes longer and we just have to plan a little better," Browning said.
Schirard, who, as a private citizen, boasts an impressive personal gun collection, said he doesn't believe the rumors about the reinstatement of the assault weapon ban will come to fruition, but he makes a point to buy up any of the scarce ammunition whenever he has the opportunity.
He said the local number of applications for concealed carry permits has mirrored national data suggesting more citizens are arming themselves than ever before, and the demand for ammunition is following the trend.
In March, The Associated Press reported that the FBI performed more than 4.2 million firearms background checks from November 2008 through January. That's an increase of more than 31 percent above the 3.2 million checks the agency performed from November 2007 through January 2008.
In La Plata County, there were 59 applications so far this year versus 24 through the end of April 2008, Schirard said. He said while it has caused a scramble for ammunition, the increase in gun ownership should not worry citizens because each applicant is investigated using Colorado Bureau of Investigation, federal and local law-enforcement data.
"It doesn't concern me at all because we do some thorough background checks, and I'm ecstatic at the number of legal and responsible owners," Schirard said.
Gustafson said the public's response to Obama's election, which is when she began to see a run on ammunition, is the only positive result of the new president's term to date.
"He's been the best gun seller of the year," Gustafson said.
Hessling said he expects manufacturers to catch up with demand eventually, and he compared the rush to arms with similar uncertainty surrounding the year 2000, when millions stockpiled supplies in anticipation of a computer cataclysm that never materialized.
"I hope I'm right in that analogy, and I think there's that similar mentality of 'the sky is falling,' but in my opinion, I think we'll look back on this a year or two from now with a certain amount of amusement," Hessling said. "I think everybody needs to calm down a little bit."