Sales of guns and ammo are losing steam after a frenzied run-up sparked by fears of greater restrictions in the wake of the Newtown shooting and other massacres.
Background checks by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, considered to be the most accurate means of tracking gun sales, plunged by a third in January compared to the year before. There were about 1.66 million background checks last month, and nearly 2.5 million in January the year before.
In the past two years, gun shop owners and consumers have complained of ammunition shortages and a dearth in fast-selling semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines, even as manufacturing ramped up.
But the shortage appears to be over. "Retail inventories, which had been in short supply last spring, have largely returned to normal now," wrote Rommel Dionisio, a gun industry analyst for Wedbush, in a recent report.
"Monthly comparisons have recently turned sharply negative, a trend we expect to last through at least May or June 2014," Dionisio wrote.
Dionisio said the "feared tightening of gun control legislation," which was the initial motivation for buying up guns and ammo at such a frenetic pace, has subsided.