Over time, it's seemed the player base has steadily gravitated towards melee (not Melee) forms of combat and we're seeing fewer and fewer firearm users as a result, for some obvious and some less than obvious reasons. I won't expound too much on these, as I think most people know them, but I will point towards the mechanical and RP issues with early firearm access being one of them with this post.
When new or returning players make their characters, I believe they're taking these limitations into consideration, along with other factors, in their choice of weapons.
So my idea is simple. Give access to the first tier or two of firearms via a store in the Mix, so that players aren't disinclined to choose them as a weapon. While I know that this is feasible currently IC, it becomes something of a chicken and the egg issue. The means to create the supply for them requires the demand, and the demand is limited because of the lack of supply, so people aren't going that route. The risk and overhead are too high.
However. If the lowest tier were made more readily available, we'd see more people choosing them. I understand the pros of firearms, but I believe the cons are severely underestimated for not only new players, but immies in general.
Gun, ammo, holster, and other accouterments are far beyond what an immy's normally willing to spend, and if they do work their way up, they're all skipping the shittiest tier. In contrast, even a pro Melee/Sword/Knife fighter can still pick up the lowest tier weapon in their skill for very cheap and still have defensive functionality with it.
In summary; during the course of character creation, the players are given strong incentive towards melee versus firearms, and these lower tier firearms never see use because of the restrictions, with people ending up aiming for higher tiers for their first guns, so we see fewer and fewer firearm users. Because of the lack of demand, there's also no supply, which means no sweet sweet smuggling action, and the cycle repeats itself. By offering an easier way for the lowest tier firearms to be obtained, we'd see more variety in skill choices, more diverse combat, more demand for higher tier firearms, and more RP as a result.
Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.