After Ferguson riots, gun sales boom in US

After Ferguson riots, gun sales boom in US

Thursday, November 27, 2014 7:37 am

Racially-charged protests in Ferguson are fuelling an exponential increase in gun sales among mainly white customers at one of the premier shooting ranges in the country a 20-minute drive away.

The Ultimate Defense Firing Range and Training Center in St Peters, outside St Louis, Missouri typically sells three to five guns a day, but in recent weeks the number has risen to 20 or 30.

Americans buying guns

Americans buying guns

“We’ve seen a tremendous run on hand guns, specifically, because people have an element of fear with what’s going on in Ferguson,” said owner and active duty police officer Paul Bastean.

“Some of them that live in that area definitively are here because they are afraid. Especially two nights ago when there were gunshots all over,” he said.

Ultimate Defense sold 33 guns and shooters fired 18,000 rounds on the practice range Tuesday, the day after protests 20 miles (32 kilometers) away degenerated into arson, looting and live gunfire.

Rage has simmered in the mainly black suburb of Ferguson after a white police officer shot dead an unarmed black teenager in August.

Uproar over Michael Brown’s death and the St Louis prosector’s refusal to indict officer Darren Wilson has inflamed racial tensions.

After a second night of protests saw a police car torched and shops attacked in Ferguson, Bastean said he sold 21 firearms in the first three hours of business.

In Ferguson protesters demand an end to what they call racial profiling at the hands of the largely white police force.

Ultimate Defense is one of four gun ranges in Missouri and around 50 nationwide that holds a five-star rating from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

A July study from the Pew Research Centre said blacks are significantly more likely than whites to be gun homicide victims.

But of the 34 percent of Americans who have a gun, rifle or pistol at home, 41 percent are whites and 19 percent black, Pew said.

Ultimate Defense sells firearms that range from $320 to more than $3,000, and opens its range to children as young as 13 years old accompanied by an adult.

In four years, Bastean says he has trained 20,000 people, five of whom went on to use a weapon in lawful self-defense. Three would not be alive today without the training and weapon, he said.

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