On July 20, authorities say, suspected gunman James Holmes walked into a packed screening of The Dark Knight Rises at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. and opened fire, killing 12 moviegoers and injuring dozens of others. The following morning, Jake Meyers arrived at his gun store in nearby Parker, Colo. to find more than a dozen people lined up waiting for it to open.
In response to the mass shootings of recent weeks, gun stores are seeing a spike in gun customers–many of whom are first-time gun-owners and women.
“A lot of it is people saying, ‘I didn’t think I needed a gun, but now I do,’” Meyers, an employee at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo, told the Denver Post. “When it happens in your backyard, people start reassessing — ‘Hey, I go to the movies.’”
The day of the Aurora shooting, the number of people seeking background checks jumped by 43 percent over the previous Friday, the Denver Post reported.
Cities across the nation have seen similar leaps in the demand for guns following the Aurora attack last month, as well as another earlier this week in which suspected white supremacist Wade Michael Page killed six worshippers at a Sikh temple in a suburb of Milwaukee. Applications for concealed carry permits have also spiked.
A surge in gun sales in the wake of a mass shooting is nothing new. After the shooting in Tucson, Ariz. that injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the number of background checks spiked 60 percent over the same date a year earlier.
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“Certainly we’ve seen an increase of business between 25 and 30 percent,” Richard Taylor, manager of The Firing Line indoor shooting range and gun shop in Aurora, told CBS Denver.
Taylor added that the glut of new customers includes many women and many older couples purchasing a firearm for the first time to protect themselves in the event of break-ins.
“I’m here to do some practicing, shooting, getting more confident with the weapon and being comfortable actually having it with me,” first-time gun buyer Gina Williams told CBS Denver on Tuesday.