This title is not likely to make a few of my pro-gun acquaintances upset, but I believe it to be sound advice in spite of the current civil unrest. Allow me to explain before you march with your pitchforks and torches.
Deciding to prepare to defend yourself with lethal force is a heavy decision. It is also one that requires some preparation you can’t just go buy a gun, a box of ammunition, maybe fire a few rounds at a range stick it in the closet and assume you are protected. A firearm is much like a musical instrument, you need training and practice so that when it comes time (and hopefully it never does) you can use it proficiently.
So what should a defenseless St. Louisan do? In my opinion they should do the same thing as an armed St. Louisan. Pay attention to the news reports so you know where the trouble spots are, keep an eye out for potential trouble and avoid both if you can.
Once things settle down if you still think you want to add a firearm to your security plan I heartily encourage it. I think you should start by doing some research before heading down to the gun store though. I recommend you start with Massad Ayoob’s “In the Gravest Extreme” due for an update very soon. Other books I recommend include “Counter Ambush” and “Defend Yourself” by Personal Defense Network’s Rob Pincus.
Once you buy your gun, it’s time to get training. The NRA has thousands of certified instructors where you can go to learn the basics. I also recommend getting a CCW permit if you selected a handgun as your defensive firearm. Then you should look into advanced training. If you’re in the St. Louis area I have heard good things about Asymmetric Solutions, you can also look at courses from Combat Focus Shooting (headed up by the previously mentioned Rob Pincus). Additionally you could attend courses at Gunsite, Thunder Ranch and the Ayoob Group. To keep your skills sharp I recommend participating in matches like those put on by the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA).
Purchasing a firearm for self-protection is not a decision to be taken lightly. It is one that will require careful forethought and a commitment to learning and practicing a lifesaving skill. It is not something one should do in a rush, but rather done in a careful methodical manner where you examine all of your options and make the choices that best suit you.