Another factor may be that, over the past few years, "understudy" .22 Long Rifle versions of other popular guns have become quite popular. Prior to the latest panic, nearly every Walmart that sells guns in my area had at least one .22LR AR-15 style rifle. I suspect that as the .223 rifles and ammo ran out, people started buying the .22LR versions instead.
Smith, and Wesson, and Me. -H. Callahan
Well waddaya know, one buwwet weft! -E. Fudd
All bad precedents begin as justifiable measures. -J. Caesar