With the events in Ferguson still worrying the nation, perhaps it is not surprising that the amount of guns being sold in the vicinity is on the rise. A small gun shop near the city of Ferguson is seeing its business rising on daily basis.
Adam Weinstein, the owner of County Guns, says that a lot of people are buying their first handgun, or perhaps a backup home protection weapon. “We have sold a boatload of guns in the last few months,” he adds.
This has been the case in most gun shops close by. Missouri gun sales have reached highest levels right around the start of the first riots are still going strong. FBI gun background checks were up by 16 percent in the last four months of 2014. Just in St. Lois County, number of people applying for concealed weapon permit more than doubled when compared to the same period last year.
There is little doubt that today the number of guns in Ferguson region is rising. Would this mean more gun-related crime?
Daniel Webster, the director of John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research doesn’t know when or how big, but expects “some uptick in gun violence”. He has been studying guns and gun-related violence for some time. Missouri has long been the most relaxed state when it came to firearm laws. When the state repealed the handgun purchase permit law in 2007, there was a stark difference in murder rate compared to the national level. In Missouri it rose by 16%, on the national level it fell.
There are already signs of increased violence in St. Louis City. 2014 ended with a five-year high of 159 killings. City police chief believes that one of the reasons was the “Ferguson effect” – the belief that everything that’s been happening made criminals more emboldened and the police exhausted.
Webster points out that even if most of the guns are sold to law-abiding people, it still means more guns out there, which might eventually trickle down to the wrong hands. He recalls a researcher who found that pickup trucks outside St. Louis stadium were a common target for thieves because their owners likely carried guns and left them in the car, since they could not carry them into the ballpark.
“There are more guns out there for someone to decide to transfer it to a prohibited person,” he says.
Here’s to hoping that one death in August will not prove to be a catalyst for more gun violence in the future.