I have family that lives in the Colorado area, so it just seemed a little bit close to home. —Curtis Alexander
OGDEN — In the wake of Friday’s deadly shooting rampage at an Aurora, Colo., theater that left 12 dead and dozens more wounded, Utah appears to be joining other states in seeing a spike in gun sales.
At Impact Guns in Ogden, store manager Craig Ball said sales have increased at least 70 percent since Friday. From Tuesday to Wednesday, the store doubled its typical number of online orders.
“Every time there’s a tragedy, people get an increased sense of awareness that bad things do happen to good people,” Ball said.
Ball has seen similar bumps in sales with other mass shootings and national tragedies. The increase appears to be somewhat consistent statewide.
Utah tracks background checks for after-market gun sales. Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman Dwayne Baird confirmed the state saw roughly a 10 percent increase in those checks Friday and Saturday and a 30 to 40 percent spike on Monday.
Baird declined to speculate on reasons for the increase, which comes on top of numbers that are already high this year.
The Department of Public Safety confirmed the number of checks set monthly records in March, May and June and near-records in January, February and April. An official said July was also trending toward a record.
Ball suggested the high numbers this year were due in part to 2012 being an election year. There is concern among gun owners that gun laws could tighten if President Barack Obama is re-elected, Ball said. It's a worry that has been repeated since before Obama took office.
The unease from Friday’s mass shooting was evident among Impact Guns customers Wednesday.
“Anything can happen any day, really,” Curtis Alexander said. “I have family that lives in the Colorado area, so it just seemed a little bit close to home.”
Another customer, Jason Schuhmacher, said the tragedy demonstrated the need for people to be able to defend themselves.
“Yes it’s a tragedy, but I also think we need to focus on the safety that comes with having firearms,” Schuhmacher said before walking onto the shooting range for some target practice.
Ball said the store was concerned that people were potentially buying guns without the needed training. He is urging buyers to strongly consider taking the extra time to learn how to handle a gun.
“If you just have the gun and you never have even pulled the trigger,” Ball said, “if anything bad happens to you you’re a liability. You’re not an asset. You’re a liability.”
Ball said most of the recent sales have been handguns as people look for protection to take with them. He said there hasn't been a chilling effect on AR-15 sales, though that was one of the guns used by the shooter. Rather, he said, sales of those guns are on the rise, too, as people fear an eventual ban because of the tragedy.