While the people of Ferguson – and around the nation – wait for the grand jury decision regarding Officer Darren Wilson and the expected aftermath, many businesses are boarding up their doors and windows, preparing for the worst. One business, however, seems to be booming. Gun sales.
On Monday, Steven King, who owns Metro Shooting Supplies told CNN that customers bought 100 guns this weekend. A typical weekend brings in about 30 buyers.
“People are afraid they are gonna throw Molotov cocktails,” says King, referring to the mostly nonviolent protests that have taken place in Ferguson since the shooting.
The increase in gun sales reaches across racial and ethnic lines, he says.
“A lot of black people coming in saying they are afraid of the hooliganism,” he says.
(See update below) Unlike some coastal states, the process for legally obtaining a permit to carry a handgun in Missouri is not all that onerous. Missouri is a shall issue state, requiring applicants to pass a background check for felony convictions, take a gun safety course and provide certificate of same, fill out an application with the local sheriff and pay a $100 application fee. For those coming to the area from other parts of the country, they also honor existing permits from all other states which honor theirs.
Are these precautions overblown or extreme? Given what’s been happening even to people who or on the side of the protesters, I’d say not.
The meeting was a gathering of Ferguson-based protesters and the agenda was how to conduct future demonstrations. When Schaefer — a senior at the University of Missouri, St. Louis — arrived, he was told he couldn’t live video stream the meeting. The rule struck him as “suspicious,” but in a conversation with BuzzFeed News Friday he said he sat down and obeyed it anyway. And for the next 40 minutes, nothing happened.
At some point, however, Schaefer noticed the people around him moving away “very discreetly.” Then a man he didn’t know sprang into action.
“All of the sudden one guy ran up to me and pointed and said he’s live streaming. Four others joined him,” Schaefer said. “They slammed me against the exit door of the church, so I stumbled out. The guy who was in the front hit me a couple times in the face. I fell to the ground and I was stunned.”
The beating didn’t stop there. Schaefer said the men continued kicking and hitting him as he tried to shield himself with his arms. The barrage only stopped when “five to 10” other people at the gathering stepped in.
Schaefer was siding with the protesters and wound up fleeing for his life, hiding out in a store while a clerk called for police. They beat him down inside of a church. And that’s happening before any news has been officially released. If the reports we’ve been hearing are remotely accurate, there is every chance that the grand jury will drop this matter without delivering an indictment against Officer Wilson. And if that happens, I wouldn’t want to be in the area that night. The residents and business owners don’t have as many options, though, and they seem to be preparing to fight if it comes to it. This may get a lot worse before it gets any better.
Update: (Jazz) A reader wrote in expressing concern that the original article listed the requirements for obtaining a permit in a confusing way, even though they immediately followed the phrase “must issue” which linked to the state permit requirements. To clarify for those who do not follow this issue closely, this was not intended to imply that the state must issue you a gun. Only a permit, if qualified under the rules. Since we were discussing citizens taking to the streets, it seemed obvious to me, but part of it was worded awkwardly. To make sure this is clear, those requirements only apply to obtaining a carry permit. In Missouri you can purchase a handgun, rifle or shotgun without a permit and have it in your home, while hunting, or “while traveling in a continuous journey through the state.”