BRIDGETON, Missouri -- Gun stores near the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson have seen sales zoom as the area awaits a grand jury decision on whether to indict a police officer for shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
John Stephenson of Metro Shooting Supplies in nearby Bridgeton said he normally sells 10 to 15 guns a day. But for the last three weeks, he said he has been selling between 30 and 50 guns daily, a nearly 300 percent increase.
The grand jury's decision was initially expected by mid-November and law enforcement authorities have been training in case the jury's ruling triggers another spasm of violent protests.
The biggest sellers have been "home defense shotguns" and "high capacity semi-automatic pistols," particularly the Smith & Wesson M&P9, Stephenson said. He's sold about 250 of the pistols in the last few weeks.
"As fast as we get them in, we sell them," he said.
The gun sales have been fueled by the looming grand jury ruling and the memory of the violent protests following the shooting of the Brown on Aug. 9. Lawyers for the family said Officer Darren Wilson should have been arrested immediately, but the police claim that Wilson fired in self-defense after he and Brown struggled for his gun through a police car window and later when Brown allegedly advanced on the officer.
Stephenson said people are afraid of what could happen following the grand jury's decision.
"There are people in fear of their lives and property, and other people who are concerned," he said.
It's a reaction that isn't confined to Ferguson, Stephenson said.
"There was a protest in St. Louis and outside the Rams football game. It's gone beyond Ferguson," he said.