One of the lessons from Ferguson, Missouri, ignored by the 24/7 media frenzy, was that store owners who stood and defended their shops with guns did not get looted or vandalized.
At County Guns and the adjacent St. Louis Ink Tattoo Studio, peace and calm reigned.
Adam Weinstein, owner of County Guns, shares a storefront with his business partner on Florissant Avenue less than 10 minutes from where rioters started looting and burning businesses after a peaceful prayer vigil Sunday night, Aug. 10. The protest of slain teenager Michael Brown had suddenly turned violent.
Hearing news reports of the spreading lawlessness, Weinstein and his partner, tattoo artist Mike Gutierrez, decided to act.
They rounded up a few friends and prepared to protect their businesses. With force if necessary.
When they arrived at their stores, the Dollar General in the same strip mall had already been looted.
“As soon as I saw they were getting closer to the store, I called my partner and we went up there and cleared out all the inventory,” he said, in an effort to stop the looters from getting a slew of free weapons from his gun store.
“And once we were up there things were getting even hairier and so we said, what the heck, let’s just suit up in all our tactical gear and stand out there with our guns in front of the stores,” Weinstein told WND.
Weinstein stood with his AR-15 assault rifle, a pistol and tactical vest while Gutierrez and several employees of the two stores also carried rifles.
They not only protected their own stores but the other shops in the strip mall.
“We are next to a beauty salon, which is popular for looting, and a cell phone store, and so we scared them off. Nothing was touched,” Weinstein said. “I won’t elaborate on how we did that, but suffice it to say if you see a bunch of crazy guys with machine guns, you know, I would go the other way.”
Some alternative media picked up on the fact that President Obama, when he addressed the unrest in Ferguson, lumped people “carrying guns” with those who were “looting and attacking the police,” adding that it “undermines justice.”
“The president mentioned looting, carrying guns and attacking the police. But these three things aren’t all the same. Two of these things are crimes. One of them is not,” reported Melissa Melton for the Daily Sheeple.
She pointed out that Missouri has no state permit requirements for the purchase of a rifle, shotgun or handgun, and there are no state licensing requirements to possess the weapons. Concealed carry is legal in the state with a valid endorsement or permit.
“Live feeds from Ferguson have already shown shop owners protecting their stores by standing guard at the entrances with guns; some shops that haven’t been looted or destroyed have actually been saved because of guns,” Melton wrote, further taking Obama to task. “It’s called the 2nd Amendment of the Bill of Rights, something we still have in this country.”
Weinstein and his friends have been standing guard over their stores every night since, he told WND on Friday.
“The first two nights were when it was very hairy, and after that it was mostly as a precautionary thing and to look out after the entire strip mall and let them know, ‘Hey, you’re not going to be doing that here,'” he said.
Besides the Dollar General, no other stores in the strip mall were looted, and only one sustained a broken window.
One chain-owned clothing store, Ross, brought in its own corporate-paid security guards and had them stationed, with guns, in front of its store.
“But most business owners are probably afraid. Some of these owners never set foot in their store. Most of us up there were former military and are used to these situations,” said Weinstein who also works at a local fire department in the St. Louis County area. “When you see a mob of people the last thing most people think of is let’s go down there and stand in their way.
“But my partner owns the tattoo shop and that’s his livelihood,” he continued. “That’s how he feeds his children, and we weren’t going to let these mobs come smash up his store and basically let them destroy his business, because a lot of insurance companies won’t pay claims during riots. What if he would have to rebuild?”
Weinstein said police were too busy to protect every business.
“They would drive by and thank us,” Weinstein said. “They said they wished more businesses would be doing what we were doing, so they wouldn’t be bouncing from one call to another as alarms go off for businesses being looted. They could stop them from getting there in the first place. I thought they would run us off but they were 100 percent behind us.”
He said most cops don’t fear guns in the hands of law abiding citizens, at least not in states like Missouri where the laws respect the Second Amendment.
“Concealed carry is legal here and you can purchase a machine gun and a suppressor, as long as it’s a model made in 1986 or earlier and you’re going to pay $20,000 for it, so there are not too many criminals who are going to be buying them,” Weinstein said. “I haven’t read too many stories about killings being committed with legal machine guns by people licensed to own them.”
When martial law comes to a town near you
Daisy Luther, author of the Organic Prepper blog site, penned an article titled “Lessons from Ferguson: Prepping for Civil Unrest and Martial Law”
She wrote that Ferguson was a closely watched event for those who want to be prepared for civil unrest and the breakdown of law and order in America.
“It’s about watching and learning from the events in Ferguson, because this type of chaos could be coming to a city near you,” she wrote. “When society breaks down, it nearly always follows a distinct path. The main variable is how quickly the situation devolves.”
Luther said she has studied various cases of civil unrest throughout American history.
“If you look back at the L.A. riots after the Rodney King issue and if you look at the looting after Hurricane Katrina, the looting actually goes in the same way; it’s just the speed of it that differs,” she told WND. “You see predicable patterns, everyone gets really tense, and then people forget there are civil rules in place and use it as an excuse to loot and steal.
“This was not about people trying to feed their families it was about the urge to just break the law because they felt invincible like they weren’t going to be caught, and then people get swept up in this mob mentality,” Luther continued. “This mob mentality has even been used successfully in court as a criminal defense that good people can get swept up in this mentality. That tells you the power of a mob mentality. And some people maybe don’t have quite the same strength of character, and they’re a little easier to sweep along. I think the message for us is that people that are a little bit weaker do exist, and because it’s not just the people who would ordinarily commit crimes but it’s the people that get swept along with them.”
Luther said the details of what touches off a civil disturbance will not matter as much as knowing how to protect one’s property and loved ones.
“It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong in the initial triggering of events because everyone has chosen a side and a chain reaction led to the breakdown of society,” she said. “What matters is keeping your family safe.”
She said Ferguson is proof that riots don’t just occur in the inner city of large metropolises.
“This is a town of 21,000 people, and that makes this even more alarming, because it can truly happen anywhere, no matter where you live,” she said.
Here is the advice Luther gives to people asking how they should prepare for civil disorder:
Do not venture out
“The first thing is to stay home. Don’t get yourself involved in any of these mobs, and for goodness sake don’t take your kids to a protest,” she said. “I don’t care what anybody says, that it’s a peaceful protest, because all it takes is one person to throw a beer bottle at the cops and out comes the pepper spray or tear gas.”
Don’t be the ‘soft’ target
Even if you stay home, that doesn’t mean you’ll be out of the line of fire.
“If the fight comes to your door, be familiar with your firearms, know how to load and reload them, how to fire them accurately, and you must have a plan on how to deal with a situation like this,” Luther said. “These may not be the greatest people who are out there rioting, but they are not going to be the type that says, ‘I don’t care if you’ve got a gun I’m coming in to take your stuff.’ They want to choose the easiest target. You want to make yourself the threatening target, the ones they look at and say ‘you know what, ‘this isn’t worth it.'”
Pick your battles wisely
“You may have to decide whether defending your car is worth it,” Luther said. “You shouldn’t pick a fight that you’re not sure to win. So if I’m a single momma and I’m home with my baby and look out the window and see people breaking into my car, I would say, ‘You know I just need to call my insurance company in the morning.’ Other people might act differently. You have to recognize what your strong points and weak points are. For someone else it could be worth it to confront those looters.”
Be prepared for fire
Another big concern in riot situations is fire.
“Because if you have fire you have to leave your house, which puts you out into the battle zone,” Luther said. “I think you should have fire extinguishers and a bit of knowledge on how to contain fires. But if it’s too big to control and you’ve got to go, you should have your ‘go bag’ ready with your most important things, and you should also be armed if you have to leave your house.”
And most importantly, she said, don’t listen to everything the White House tells you.
“The most ridiculous thing I’ve heard was Obama’s comments that guns undermine justice,” Luther said. “A gun is the only justice in a situation like this. I can’t even comprehend the fact that he said that. It’s was just the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard when there were people protecting their business with guns at that very time.”
Don’t expect help from police
In a lawless, chaotic situation you can’t expect to call 911 and have first responders arrive within minutes to protect you, she said, so you have to be able to protect yourself.
“Calling 911 is not the first step in our family’s personal protection plan,” Luther said. “I’m not saying I would never call 911 but my first step is to arm myself and figure out exactly what is going on in the situation outside.”