DENVER - Gun sale background checks in Colorado are at a record high, and retailers attribute the rise in part to concerns over crackdowns on guns after recent school shootings, including the December 2012 incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., that left 20 children and six adults dead.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation had approved nearly 355,000 checks as of November, thousands more than all of last year's 335,940 approvals. A total of 361,591 residents had applied for firearms background checks through November, compared with 343,302 for 2012.
Over the weekend before Christmas, more than 2,000 criminal background checks were statewide, a high number caused by holiday sales, a gun show and other factors.
Although the large number of weekend sales followed a shooting at Arapahoe High School that left two students dead on Dec. 13, including the shooter who was a student at the school, state officials said they could not determine if that was another reason for the increase.
"After the tragic school shooting (at Sandy Hook) when everybody started trying to hoard, then we had a great influx of people trying to purchase firearms," said Brian Langfitt, a licensed dealer and owner of Pawn of Western Colorado.
Susan Medina, spokeswoman for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said final year-end numbers will be released in upcoming weeks. Medina also said the department does not know what effect new state laws on background checks will have on this year's activity.
As of Wednesday, private individuals selling to other private individuals are required to go to a licensed dealer for an authorized background check.
"In the past, a seller in a private transaction just had to have a general knowledge that the person they were selling the firearm to could legally possess the firearm," Medina said.
Statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Safety show that nearly 5,000 background checks were performed on private sales from July, including 72 that were blocked because of criminal records, KKCO-TV reported Tuesday.