Nearly 800,000 people requested background checks so they could buy guns in Florida in 2012 — far more than in any recent year.
Statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show 797,970 background checks were requested last year — nearly 200,000 more than were requested in 2011 and more than double the number for 2004, the earliest year for which statistics were provided.
The numbers were already higher than usual in the first 10 months of 2012, but surged after President Barack Obama won re-election in November and skyrocketed in the days after the Dec. 14 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six adults.
The dramatic spike is likely fueled by fear that greater gun control laws may be passed after the Connecticut shooting.
"I don't think it has anything to do with the national tragedy. It's not the direct cause," said Marion Hammer, the chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association in Florida. "The direct cause is when politicians call for gun bans, that creates fear."