Mike Gutierrez (left) and Adam Weinstein (third from left) brought guns to guard their store during the riots in Ferguson last night. (Photo credit: Bryan Sutter)

As criminals raged and overwhelmed the ability of law enforcement to respond to threats in Ferguson, Missouri, last night, it was up to armed citizens—good guys with guns—to save the day.

Nobody is robbing St. Louis Ink Tattoo Studio anytime soon. Or County Guns, for that matter.

The two north-county businesses share a storefront in a Florissant strip mall less than ten minute drive from the epicenter of last night’s riots in Ferguson. After nightfall, what began as a community’s peaceful demonstration against the Ferguson Police Department’s shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown turned increasingly violent. Crowds plundered a QuikTrip and burned it to the ground, and local news began reporting brazen raids on other stores in the area.

After hearing of the roving bands of looters, Mike Gutierrez knew he had to protect his tattoo shop. He brought a posse with him, including Adam Weinstein, owner of County Guns, who was acutely worried about criminals getting their hands on his merchandise.

“We didn’t want them coming in here and then running around with a bunch of free guns,” Weinstein told Daily RFT when we arrive at the store around 12:30 a.m. this morning. Weinstein was outfitted with an assault rifle, pistol and tactical vest. Gutierrez cradled his own rifle in his hands.

Gutierrez, Weinstein and their group arrived to find thieves tearing through a Dollar General in the same strip mall that houses their business. Weinstein says the looters attempted moving toward the shop, but were scared off by the guns. Then the police arrived.

“There were like two SWAT vans, two dozen cop cars,” said one woman. The cops apparently checked out the situation and then tore off to some other crisis.

Police officers are wonderful people to have around, but they can’t be everywhere.

In the end you are your own first responder, and must provide your own self-defense.