Gunfire aimed at Dallas police sent shock waves through private security services in the Kansas City area.
Much of the private security inside office buildings, at community festivities and at weekend destinations comes from off-duty and former police officers, who feel a direct connection to the deaths in Dallas.
“This Dallas event last night, it’s a game changer,” said Ryan Smith, president and owner of Titan Protection & Consulting in Overland Park, on Friday. “It’s not something we’ve seen before,”
Smith worked in law enforcement in northeast Johnson County and central Kansas for a dozen years before starting his business in 2009. The private security company has about 180 guards. They wear police-like uniforms and some are armed.
They got a special notice from the company in the aftermath of Dallas.
“We’re really impressing upon our people that that uniform does paint a target on your back,” Smith said. “But every contact we have with those in the public is an opportunity to prove people wrong or prove people right about how they view people in uniform.”
The Dallas shootings came near the end of a peaceful protest spurred by the deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile near St. Paul, Minn., both of whom were shot by police officers.
Five officers died and seven others were wounded in the Dallas shooting. Two civilians also were wounded. Dallas police later killed Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old Army reservist who was suspected in the shootings.
Even “soft uniform” services in Kansas City felt the Dallas shootings.
Uni-Guard’s unarmed, licensed guards typically work inside offices and other buildings, securing entries. They dress for an office, in a necktie, suit jacket and white shirt.
“We wear white so we don’t look like the cops,” said Doug Weishar, general manager of ISS Uni-Guard Security Services in Kansas City.
That traditionally has been to meet clients’ wishes, said Weishar, who served 34 years in the Kansas City Police Department. After Dallas, it served a different purpose, namely the safety of the guards.
“It’s just a whole different world we’re in now,” Weishar said.
Often in the country, gun sales spike after a mass shooting. Anxiety levels rise and proposals to tighten controls on gun sales and ownership rekindle.
But sales in Kansas City hadn’t reacted to the violence in Dallas — at least not Friday.
At Snap Shots in North Kansas City, Jose Caballero had heard the news about Dallas but said his shopping trip wasn’t motivated by the shootings. He had been thinking about buying a gun for a while, and he handled a few guns and chatted with a staff member before laying down $609 for an FNX-45 handgun.
Caballero, 28, said the gun will stay in his home and will be used for protection against “whatever I feel threatened by.”
Brian Spencer, a manager at Snap Shots, said he didn’t expect to sell more guns than usual. He had noticed an increase after the Sandy Hook shooting, where 20 schoolchildren were killed, but not after the more recent slaughter in Orlando, where 49 people were killed in a gay nightclub.
Snap Shots mostly sells small handguns, which are less expensive than assault rifles such as the AR-15, Spencer said. He said the gun market is already saturated and summertime usually means less business.
“Basically, the only thing that will provoke panic buying is political,” he said.
That might happen “when Hillary gets elected,” Spencer said, referring to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who has repeatedly called for gun law reform and who has enjoyed leads over Republican Donald Trump in most recent polls.
Jael Dawson, assistant manager at Target Time Defense in Blue Springs, said the store hadn’t had more business than usual, but Dawson pointed to the wake of the Orlando shootings as an indicator that it might change.
After initial reports that the Orlando shooting was carried out with an AR-15, proposals to ban the gun gained more attention. Buyers would come in wanting to buy an assault rifle, Dawson said, and “they didn’t care” what kind.
Jason Wagner, a manager at Frontier Justice in Lee’s Summit, said the store enjoyed a small uptick in sales of “defensive firearms” after the Orlando shooting, but there hadn’t been more gun purchases than usual immediately following the Dallas shooting.
Wagner speculated that there might not be an increase in sales this time because that violence didn’t target civilians. The bullets on Thursday in Dallas were meant for police.