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Straightforward Shooting sees huge surge of interest in gun classes after Connecticut tragedy

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The gun violence in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a shooter entered an elementary school and killed twenty children and six adults, has sparked much debate and outrage in Colorado, which faced its own mass shooting on July 20 at an Aurora movie theater.

On the policy side, Governor John Hickenlooper has said that the time has come to consider new legislation on guns and President Barack Obama has set up a gun-violence task force, his boldest move yet on the matter.

At the same time, more people in Colorado are making efforts to purchase firearms, completely overwhelming the background-check system. As the Denver Post notes in a story on the surge, the wait list for the thousands of customers seeking background checks is now at least 100 hours long.

Today, we caught up with Tina Francone, the founder and owner of Straightforward Shooting, a business based in Littleton that offers a range of classes in basic pistol shooting, concealed handguns, concealed carry and more. And interest in those classes has really increased, says Francone, a National Rifle Association-certified instructor who lives in Littleton and has run the business for several years: "What I'm seeing is an urgency in a lot of people: 'I need to take it. I need to take it now. Do you have a class at 4 o'clock today?' It's definitely a feel of urgency. 'I want to make sure that I'm trained, because I want to be able to purchase my firearms and know how to use them.'"

Over the past two weeks, her website has had more than 700 hits -- about quadruple the amount of traffic she usually gets around this time of year, which is always her busiest. And she says she's getting close to a hundred calls a day and as many e-mails from people interested in signing up for courses -- which is also around four times the usual number of inquiries.

Her classes are now booked solid through the middle of February. While there have been some delays in the past, she says, for the first time she's now putting people on waiting lists -- because they are asking.

"When I say the next available is the middle of February, they say, 'Can I get on a waiting list? If anything opens up, will you call me? I'll pay you extra,'" she says, adding, "My phone continues to ring all day long. And as quickly as I can clear my inbox, it is full again."

From her conversations with interested customers, she says it's clear that people are worried about stricter gun laws and want to make sure they can get the firearms and the training they need before it becomes more difficult. And, she adds, people are also just very upset about such a horrible tragedy and want to take precautions.

Continue for more of our interview with Tina Francone.

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Sam Levin
Contact: Sam Levin