Numbers are up in CA, too, which pleasantly surprises me, given that this state seems so anti-gun. Because gun purchases do not require a reason, it's not statistically easy to pinpoint an exact cause for the increase in purchases. Sales spikes tend to follow election years. Hints of increased gun controls can prompt sales. And of course, terrorist incidents also pump the numbers.
It is my strong opinion that the Aurora massacre has implanted a very pragmatic understanding of self-protection in people's minds: no law ever prevented a crime, and in most life-threatening attack situations, you simply do not have enough time to dial 911 much less wait around for response. Sometimes you can't even effectively retreat, dutifully or otherwise. Being armed simply increases your chances for self-defense, period.
You know what's on my mind most about Aurora? Four men gave their lives protecting their women. Think about their instinctive reaction at the moment of truth. No one gave a damn what was legal and illegal, how much we need to legislate or not, whether James Holmes had a 100-round magazine or was using a single-shot bolt-action... The most primal instinct took control: protect the ones you love in moments of danger!
Let's say they ban hi-cap mags nationwide. Let's say Holmes didn't use an AR and instead used a 10-round semi-auto pistol. Every four of those men would still give their lives again to protect their loves. That should be the focus. This is the catalyst I think that is really driving sales and permit increases. If I were staring down a would-be murderer, I don't care that he is shooting 9mm vs .45 or FMJ vs JHP or Glock vs Springfield vs 1911 or 10 rounds vs 1,000.... If I'm thinking about round count, then it definitely should be on the two rounds I'm trying to put into his chest plus one to his head.
Overall, I feel this is the realization a lot of previously non-gun people are coming to, in the wake of Aurora, despite all the political clamoring for tougher gun control.