OGDEN — Local firearms dealers say gun sales have been up in the days immediately following the Colorado movie theater massacre that killed 12 and wounded many others.
Karl Stewart, chief financial officer for Impact Guns in Ogden, said total sales, which include in-store and Internet sales, have increased by 60 to 70 percent since July 20, the day the shooting occurred.
Stewart said many customers have actually mentioned the incident specifically, telling him how shocked and fearful the shooting made them.
“I think it’s made a lot of people realize that bad things can happen to good people,” Stewart said. “I’ve seen people I personally know come in and buy guns that I thought would never, ever become a gun owner.”
Stewart said sales have consisted mostly of handguns, but AR-15 assault rifles, which the shooter used in the theater, are also seeing an increase in sales because customers are worried about a possible ban on the gun.
Clearfield resident John Douglas visited Impact Guns on Thursday, in the market for a handgun.
Douglas said he feels owning a gun is becoming more and more necessary in light of incidents like the theater shooting.
“I’ve never owned a gun,” Douglas said. “But it seems like it might be a smart thing to have for protection with all the stuff that seems to be going on these days.”
Douglas’ friend Ryan Eames said he knows he will probably never need to use a handgun to protect himself, but he owns one anyway.
“I’d rather have one and not need it than need one and not have it,” he said.
Mike Casey, vice president of Smith and Edwards, said his store has also seen an increase in gun sales since the movie theater shooting.
Casey said gun sales often fluctuate based on news events, especially those involving mass killings.
“We typically see a spike every time something like this happens,” Casey said. “It’s not like we have people lined up outside the door, but we’ve definitely seen an increase.”
Casey said in the short time since the Colorado shooting, he estimates gun sales have gone up at his store by 10 to 15 percent.
“Those kinds of events can jar people’s memory a little bit and they start to think, ‘Hey, this could happen to me,’ ” he said. “And they don’t want to be defenseless.”
Casey said gun sales will also spike whenever people think the passage of more restrictive gun laws is imminent, noting that sales soared when President Obama was elected.
The recent rise in sales seems consistent across the state.
Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman Dwayne Baird said the state saw roughly a 10 percent increase in background checks for after-market gun sales July 20 and 21, the first two days after the shooting, and a 30 to 40 percent spike July 23.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.