The figure far outstrips the 7 billion to 10 billion rounds sold in a typical year, The Washington Post reported Monday. The spike in sales began when people started to take seriously warnings from the gun lobby that with Democrats controlling the White House and Congress there would be new restrictions on gun ownership, the newspaper said.
As consumers stepped up purchases, supplies tightened, prices went up and a shortage developed. The shortage has begun to ebb and gun-control advocates are expressing concern about the record amount of stockpiled ammunition, the Post said.
"We've had people buy ammunition for calibers they don't even have the gun for: 'Oh, I want to get this gun eventually. And when I get it, ammunition may be hard to get,'" Michael Tenny, who runs an Internet sporting goods store based in Fort Worth, Texas.
U.S. taxes on guns and ammunition -- which are used to fund wildlife conservation -- increased after Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992 and after Democrats took control of Congress in 2006. At the current rate those tax receipts will set a record in 2009.