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Gun sales surge ahead of jury’s Ferguson decision

November 19, 2014

FERGUSON, Missouri (AP) — Some suburban St. Louis gun dealers have been doing brisk business, particularly among first-time buyers, as fearful residents await a grand jury’s decision on whether to indict the white police officer who fatally shot a black teenager.

Metro Shooting Supplies, in an area near the city’s main airport, reports selling two to three times more weapons than usual in recent weeks — an average of 30 to 50 guns each day — while the grand jury prepares to conclude its three-month review of the case that sparked looting and weeks of sometimes-violent protests in August.

“We’re selling everything that’s not nailed down,” owner Steven King said. “Police aren’t going to be able to protect every single individual. If you don’t prepare yourself and get ready for the worst, you have no one to blame but yourself.”

The store’s waiting list for private lessons and concealed-carry training classes extends into 2015.

Protest leaders say they are preparing for non-violent demonstrations after the grand jury’s decision is announced, but they also acknowledge the risk of more unrest if the panel decides not to issue criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the white officer who shot Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed.

Other gun dealers say their sales spikes are comparable to the increases seen soon after Brown’s death on Aug. 9.

First-time gun owners account for about 60 percent of his recent customers, King said.

The St. Louis County Police Department reports a sharp increase in the number of concealed-carry permits issued since Brown’s death compared with a year ago.

Police spokesman Brian Schellman said “it would be naive” to say the increase has not been driven by concern over the grand jury decision.