Gun sales in Ferguson, Mo., have increased as the city braces for the grand jury’s decision on whether to charge Darren Wilson, the white officer who shot and killed Michael Brown on August 9.
Home defense is the reason for so many gun purchasers, guessed John Stephenson, who manages a shooting range in Bridgeton, near Ferguson, where he says gun sales are up 40 to 50 per cent.
“We’ve sold tons,” Stephenson said.
Steven King, owner of Metro Shooting Supplies, told CNN that customers bought 100 guns last weekend. Usually, he said the business would get about 30 customers over the same period.
Interestingly, the people of the community are not alone in ramping up gun sales before the jury’s decision. According to the Associated Press, St. Louis police said they have spent around $100,000 on gear and other items. St. Louis County Police Sgt. Brian Schellman told the AP that since August, the county has spent $65,000 for new riot gear and $35,000 to replenish items like pepper spray, smoke canisters and rubber bullets.
Even though the majority of protests since the shooting have been peaceful, there is still a level of fear present on both sides. Protestors want to be able to exercise their rights without fear of assault by the police. The police are concerned with keeping the peace in case violence breaks out.
“It only takes one in 10 with bad intentions to make the entire situation spiral out of control,” Schellman told CNN.
The relationship between the protestors and police has been tense since the first protests. Some business owners are boarding up their locations in preparation for potential riots.
Insurance company owner, Dan McMullen, told CNN that wished he did not have to board up his business.
“I don’t like them [the boards] here, but I don’t want my windows smashed out either,” he said.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowels has warned law enforcement of the increase in residents who own guns.
“It is a little frightening to think that somebody who is less trained may not have that restraint,” Knowels told CNN.
Peaceful protestors have asked for a 48-hour notice before the decision is made public. They believe that early awareness could prevent drastic responses.
The AP reported that St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s spokesman, Ed Magee, said the decision will come no earlier than Saturday.