Gun sales in Ferguson triple as residents brace for grand jury decision

Gun sales at a Ferguson, MO gun shop tripled last weekend as residents - both black and white - braced for a spasm of violence if the grand jury releases its decision on whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown shooting case.

This CNN article is fascinating. It shows some residents cautiously optimistic that the worst can be avoided, while others are in total denial.

McCullen warns others considering getting a gun not to be reckless. When his adult son told him he wanted a gun to protect himself after the grand jury decision, McMullen warned him not to rush into it.

"People like him need to think about it, and not think about 'I'm worried about this stuff,' " McMullen says.

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.

"But not all of Ferguson is hooliganish. The media portrays us that way. If the world can just see this is one little street in Ferguson going crazy, they'd understand that we're not just one big burning city."

At Metro Shooting Range in nearby Bridgeton, Missouri, manager John Stephenson says gun sales are up 40 to 50% as of last week.

And lots of folks are coming in to the gun range for training, which he says is important for new gun owners.

"Every time that door opens, we're seeing new faces," Stephenson says. Many new customers tell him they're concerned about the response to the grand jury decision.

The bulk of the weapons sold to new buyers are home defense shotguns. "We've sold tons," he says.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles says a good number of residents have told him they're buying guns for protection. The mayor has warned law enforcement to be mindful that there are a flurry of new gun owners.

"It is a little frightening to think that somebody who is less trained may not have that restraint."

A gun owner himself, Knowles says gun ownership is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly.

Most shops and restaurants are boarded up and most business owners have armed themselves. Knowing that might make violent protestors think twice about looting a store.

But some protestors are in total denial:

But some protesters say that fear is unfounded, that violence and crime among the protesters has been minimal.

Bassem Masri, who can be found on any given night verbally lashing out at police, says it is unfair to call the protests violent. They are simply loud, he says.

Masri claims to say whatever he wants to police and believes they should be trained to take it.

"As far as what's happened within the last 90 days, people would know if you had been paying attention. There hasn't been any looting or violence or whatnot. We've been keeping it peaceful and they are just worried about us using our freedom of speech such as we've been doing. And we've been pushing the limits on that if it's even possible to do that."

There is little doubt that there are several dozen - at least - outsiders from across the country who have traveled to Ferguson who don't have peaceful intentions in their heart and are there specifically to riot and loot. That's the reality that the protestor above refuses to acknowledge. Those outsiders are biding their time, waiting for the moment when the community's emotions are at a fever pitch before stirring up trouble that will animate the mob mentality of the crowds and set them off.

There are, indeed, protestors who desperately wish to avoid violence, and have actually put their own safety on the line to try and calm the crowds. But that only works for those not inclined to take advantage of chaos to loot and burn.

I'd say those buying guns are only being prudent - and smart.