Surge in numbers purchasing guns in Colorado


BACKGROUND CHECKS for people wanting to buy guns in Colorado jumped more than 41 per cent after Friday morning’s shooting at an Aurora movie theatre, while firearms instructors say they are also seeing increased interest in the training required for a concealed-carry permit.

“It’s been insane,” said Jake Meyers, an employee at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo in Parker, a Denver suburb.

When he arrived at work on Friday morning – just hours after a gunman killed 12 people and injured 58 at the Century Aurora 16 theatre – there already were 15 to 20 people waiting outside the store, Mr Meyers said.

He said it was “probably the busiest Monday all year” and that the basic firearms classes that he and the store’s owner taught were booked solid for the next three weeks – which had not happened all year.

“A lot of it is people saying, ‘I didn’t think I needed a gun, but now I do’,” Mr Meyers said. “When it happens in your back yard, people start reassessing.”

Between Friday and Sunday, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm – a 43 per cent increase over the previous Friday- Sunday and a 39 per cent jump over those same days on the first weekend of July.

The biggest spike was on Friday, when there were 1,216 checks, a 43 per cent increase over the average number for the previous two Fridays.

The checks are required before anyone may legally purchase a gun in Colorado. Because some purchasers may have bought more than one gun or decided against their purchase, the actual number bought may have been different from the 2,887.

Such increases are not unusual in the wake of mass shootings.

In 2010, after a gunman in Tucson killed six people and injured others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, background checks in Arizona jumped 60 per cent over the same date one year earlier, according to the FBI.

A similar increase occurred in Virginia after the shootings at Virginia Tech University in 2007.

Dion Studinski, who teaches a course required for people to apply for a concealed-carry permit, said his class for Saturday at Firing-Line gun store and indoor shooting range in Aurora was overbooked. “We’ve definitely had an increase,” he said.

Tom Mauser, a gun-control advocate whose son Daniel was killed at Columbine High School in 1999, said he was not surprised by the numbers. “To me that’s just symbolic of the fear that drives [people].”

Colorado State representative Rhonda Fields said buying a gun was not the only response people should have. “I don’t think that to be preventative we need to provide or have more guns,” she added.