As thousands of people take to the streets all over the nation to riot and destroy things, there’s something else very alarming going on right now. You see, while much of the attention is being focused on people burning businesses, throwing bricks, and stealing televisions and lamps, there’s something else that’s going on.

It seems the looters are arming themselves.

Nearly 50 guns are now in the hands of thieves after they were stolen by looters who were part of a group of individuals who broke into and took items from several Atlanta businesses and homes amid protests over the deaths of black individuals at the hands of former or current police officers.

A total of 43 handguns were stolen from Chuck’s Firearms, located on Miami Circle in Buckhead, at about 2:30 a.m. May 29, said Jack Lesher, its previous owner who still works there as a consultant.

The looting, riots, vandalism and acts of violence occurred as others peacefully protested in Atlanta and other cities nationwide in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd in a Minneapolis and the recent deaths of Arhmad Arbery in Brunswick and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.

Lesher said the 43 handguns stolen at Chuck’s Firearms were worth between $500 and $4,500 each.

“There’s a feeling they were opportunists,” he said. “They were looking for opportunities to break in and take stuff. That’s the thought pattern.

And that’s certainly likely. Atlanta has had its own riots, including rioters trying to destroy the CNN building, so someone taking advantage of something like this certainly is possible.

But Chuck’s Firearms wasn’t the only place looted.

In St. Louis, another gun store was hit.

Nearly three dozen guns have been stolen from a local gun store, the St. Louis County Police Department said Monday.

According to Sgt. Benjamin Granda, the burglary took place around 1:10 a.m. on Sunday, May 31. Officers from the Affton Precinct responded to an alarm at Southside Pawn and Jewelry in the 8100 block of Gravois Road.

Officers arrived at the store and found a window on the west side of the building had been shattered and pieces of concrete on the ground beneath the window, Granda said.

The business owners conducted an inventory and determined 32 handguns and two rifles were missing.

That story fails to mention the riots that were taking place around that time in St. Louis, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put the pieces together.

Now, it’s entirely possible that these were just garden-variety criminals who saw an opportunity and took it. That’s very possible, even likely.

Yet there’s a more sinister possibility, and that is that individuals are looking to put guns in the hands of rioters. As law enforcement has provided something of a long leash to rioters in many places, that isn’t going to hold indefinitely. I can’t help but wonder if this is an attempt to make it so rioters can “resist” police efforts to stop the violence.

Regardless, it’s not good. Stolen guns aren’t good for peace and safety, but they’re great for those who would disrupt either. It doesn’t matter whether its criminals buying them off the black market or militant rioters looking to kill police officers. Either way, this is bad news.

Hopefully, the weapons can be recovered soon. That’s about the only ending to this story that will make many of us rest easy.