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Originally published July 24, 2012 at 8:56 PM | Page modified July 25, 2012 at 11:51 AM

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Colorado gun sales jump after theater killings

In the four days after the July 20 shooting, dealers submitted 3,647 requests for state background checks required to buy a firearm, said Susan Medina, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation

Bloomberg News

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'Batman' visit: Christian Bale, who plays Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises," the movie shown during Friday's theater massacre, visited survivors of the Colorado shooting Tuesday and thanked medical staff and police officers who responded to the attack that killed 12 people and injured 58 others. Bale visited with little advance warning and also stopped by a makeshift memorial.

Suspect in solitary: The accused killer, James Holmes, 24, remained in solitary confinement Tuesday in Arapahoe County jail, a day after making his initial court appearance. A judge is barring news cameras from the next court hearing for Holmes, on Monday.

Threats made: Outside Colorado, men accused of making threats during or after other screenings of the Batman film have been arrested in separate incidents in Maine, Arizona and Southern California, underscoring moviegoers' anxieties about security.

Seattle Times news services

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Background checks for gun purchases spiked 41 percent in Colorado after 12 people were killed inside a suburban Denver movie theater, according to state data.

In the four days after the July 20 shooting, dealers submitted 3,647 requests for state background checks required to buy a firearm, said Susan Medina, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

That's 41 percent more than the 2,583 requests during the same four days the prior week and a 38 percent increase over the 2,636 checks during the first Friday-to-Monday period in July.

Gun-law concerns

Debate over gun laws after high-profile shootings, like the one police say 24-year-old James Holmes was responsible for in Colorado, can prompt gun sales.

Last year, one-day sales in Arizona jumped 60 percent after a gunman killed six people in a Tuscon parking lot and wounded others, including then- U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

"It's not hunting guns they're looking for," said Larry Hyatt, owner of Charlotte, N.C.-based Hyatt Guns, which claims to be the largest independent gun store in the United States.

"It's self-protection handguns and military-type firearms," he said.

Jeff Serdy, owner of A.J.I. Sporting Goods in Apache Junction, estimated he saw up to 40 percent more traffic than usual in the two days after the killings.

"I looked out on the floor and said to myself, 'Whoa, look at all these people,"' Serdy said, noting many customers expressed concern that lawmakers may use the shooting to try to pass gun restrictions.

Political analysts say there is little appetite in Congress for such laws.

The FBI declined to release data on background checks nationally since the Colorado shooting, said Stephen Fischer, a spokesman.

State data and interviews elsewhere suggested increased sales.

In Florida, there were 7,905 gun-related background checks from July 20 to July 23, a 10 percent increase over the same Friday-to-Monday period the previous week, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

At Hyatt Guns, customers were waiting when the retailer opened Saturday, Hyatt said.

Hyatt said he reassigned gunsmiths and Internet staff to double to 24 the number of employees available to help customers inside the store.

"It's sad," Hyatt said. "What we see is a lot of people worried, these type incidents will cause more gun laws to be passed."

At a gun show in Loveland, Colo., two days after the shooting, customers bought rifles, scopes and ammunition from dealers such as Mike Ellis from Greeley.

Ellis, 43, said he regretted that no one in the theater crowd shot back.

"If there were several people carrying arms it probably wouldn't have played out as it did," Ellis said.

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