The fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent civil unrest in the St. Louis suburb, has led to a spike in firearm sales at some local gun shops, according to the St. Louis Business Journal.
Two local gun shop owners said that typically sluggish summer sales have gone up by around 50 percent in recent days, as showdowns between angry Ferguson residents and militarized local police have resulted in at times violent demonstrations, police aggression, and the arrest of dozens. The unrest was spurred on by the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.
Steve King, owner of the Metro Shooting gun store just 8 miles down Interstate 70 from Ferguson, toldSt. Louis Business Journal that his shop has been “unbelievably busy” in recent days.
“We’ve sold a variety of handguns, shotguns and AR-15s (a semi-automatic rifle),” said King. “All of the sales are having to do with home defense.”
King said both black and white customers have been in the store in recent days, some buying new guns while others have looked to upgrade.
“Usually it’s pretty slow through the summer, but this has been a huge spike for business,” King said.“People are hunkering down because those events are taking place too close to their own home … in some cases, a half a mile away. Lots of people are afraid.”
Al Rothweiler, owner of Mid America Arms about 15 miles south of Ferguson, reported a similar spike in gun sales in this week during a normally slow month for his $3.5 million business.
“We were closed Sunday and Monday, but today, sales have been brisk, and the store is full of people,” said Rothweiler. “Everyone who bought today mentioned something about Ferguson.”
Yet John Ham, public information officer for the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Kansas City division that includes the St. Louis region, told the Journal he doesn’t believe firearms sales have increased significantly in the area.
Meanwhile, Tuesday was another tense day in Ferguson, as around 250 demonstrators marching along Florissant Avenue – ground zero for protests in the town of around 21,000 residents this week – were met by heavily-armed officers that demanded the mostly African-American group of protesters disperse immediately or face arrest.
The tense showdown ended without violence or arrests, according to The Guardian, though the relatively calm end to the standoff is unlikely to be the last instance of raw emotion among residents.
“[T]here is definitely still an antagonism there,” said Patricia Bynes, a Democratic committeewoman in Ferguson.
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