COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. - 2016 was a banner year in Colorado for both gun sales and concealed carry permits issued.
New data from the NICS and El Paso County confirm that.
When a dealer sells a firearm in the US, it must first perform a brief background check by phone or online through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Sheck System.
The number of checks per year is an indicator of how many firearms were sold.
In 2015, Colorado dealers performed just over 454,062.
In 2016, they performed 540,514, an increase of 19%.
the increase is even more dramatic for concealed carry permits in El Paso County.
According to the sheriff's office, 5,123 new permits were issued in 2015, while 7,501 were issued in 2016.
That amounts to a 46% increase.
Richard Patton, an instructor at the Whistling Pines Gun Club along Highway 24 in eastern Colorado Springs, estimates that in his two years as an instructor, business has doubled.
"We have more instructors now than we had in the past, and they're teaching more classes now, between this club and our west club," said Patton.
When asked what they credit for the increase, responses from patrons of the club varied, from mass shootings to politics and more.
"I'm kind of upset with the Aurora shooting," said Earl Edwards.
"I wanted to buy a firearm to protect myself, while I still could," said Mark Moss, who bought his first firearm in 2006 prior to the election in 2008, fearing the Barack Obama could enact much stricter gun control laws.
Tim Wegelin, however, suggested prosperity among Americans in 2016 could be a factor in the gun growth.
"If anything, maybe an upswing in the economy," he suggested.
Patton also pointed out that more women are shooting than ever before, both for sport and self-defense.
"Just with adding our Ladies Nights, we've added probably 800 women that we've trained," he said.
At Whistling Pines, customers believe more guns in more hands is a good thing.
"The more people that carry guns concealed, the less crime there is," said Moss.
Colorado isn't an anomaly when it comes to the 19 percent increase in background checks.
In 2016, checks in Florida were up 25%, and California was up 35%.