The number of those checks, required for gun purchases, has climbed 58 percent over the past five years, with spikes this year immediately after the Aurora theater massacre and the abduction and slaying of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.
Nationally, gun sales this post-election Black Friday broke all records, overwhelming the Federal Bureau of Investigation's background-checking system.
Despite drops in violent crimes in past years, a volatile mix of political and social fears is driving more people to arm themselves, experts say.
As the number of background-check applications continues to increase, social- science professionals and gun enthusiasts say the desire to be armed is a result of an overwhelming sense of danger people believe is around them.
Read more of Ryan Parker's story in the Denver Post.
(Copyright 2012 The Denver Post)