Just like any other storekeeper, I sweep the floors, clean the glass display cabinets, stock the shelves and take one last look to make sure everything is as it should be before turning on the “Open” sign and unlocking the door for business. Only this business isn’t like other businesses, this is the gun business.
Usually the first customers of the day are the ones ready to pick up their new firearm after a 10-day wait. Most often they joke about it being the longest 10 days they can remember. The 10-day “cooling off” period is largely thought to deter homicides; however, in my opinion, the main thing it prevents is suicide. If a person wants to kill someone, statistics have shown a blunt object is still the preferred method, not a gun.
Almost everyone asks the same question, “If I already have several guns at home, why do I have to wait 10 days to get another one?” The cooling off period doesn’t make sense to them, so I try to explain why the background check is important. “A lot can change since your last purchase,” I inform them.
Most think since I work in a gun store I’m opposed to the 10-day wait and background check. That’s simply not the case. I believe law-abiding citizens going through the proper procedures should be allowed to own any gun they want, and criminals should not be able to own them at all.
Around lunchtime, we get the window shoppers coming through. These are the people who stop in during their lunch break trying to absorb as much information as they can to make an informed, educated purchase. Being a former Marine, I try to guide them through the process, answering the plethora of questions they have.
What is a good home protection gun? What do you recommend for a good conceal carry weapon? What caliber is best for stopping a threat or home invader? What type of ammunition should I buy? Which one kicks harder? Where can I learn to shoot better?
Gun sales are definitely on the rise, and the number of first-time buyers coming through the door continues to amaze me. Most would be surprised by the number of women, doctors, schoolteachers and various other professionals who are actively exercising their right to bear arms. Almost everyone who comes through the door possesses or is seeking a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
The current state of affairs regarding our legislators trying to ban certain firearms has cast the average law-abiding citizen into a panic. I have sold more guns to first-time buyers this year than any previous year I can remember. People who have lived their entire lives without a gun are now buying one simply because they fear they won’t be able to in the future.
The AR-platform rifles continue to be best-sellers regardless of the attempts to ban assault-style weapons. Almost everyone who comes in the store, and probably everyone reading this, thinks the AR in AR-15 stands for “assault rifle.” It actually stands for Armorlite Rifle, the company that started making the AR-15. The threat of legislation and seizure has forced many to begin milling and machining their own frames to avoid having to register them. And, yes, it is completely legal for an enthusiast to build their own rifle.
From about 3 p.m. until closing, the serious gun buyers and owners begin strolling through the door. They are there to look at the latest in firearms innovation, get a glimpse of the firearm that’s next on their list to purchase and talk about guns in general. Although in the past it was mainly the serious enthusiasts who would participate in conversation about gun control and legislation, now it has become a common topic discussed by all who come through our doors.
From first-time buyers to long-time buyers, everyone openly engages in the discussion of one’s right to keep and bear arms. From my spot behind the counter, I listen to all the complaints as I sell another pistol; I see all the concerned faces as I sell another box of ammo; and I hear all the questions asking what the future will hold as I release another rifle.
I am stricken with the sad revelation that many who have called California home for their entire lives are now leaving because they have lost faith in those who govern and no longer believe our best interests are being represented. I listen to those who boast about having just purchased a new home in another state, ready to call Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Arizona or Idaho their new home. In an historic recall, Colorado’s recent gun control bills cost the state Senate two Democratic seats, including the president of the Colorado Senate. I think it may have taken some longer than others to figure out the Second Amendment is not a party issue, it is an American issue.
And as I lock the door and turn off the lights, the questions racing through my mind are many. Will I still have a job? Will the government try to take away people’s guns? Will the people let the government take away their guns? Although I am a simple Marine, I have seen what happens when people lose faith in their government, and that is the thought I will carry to my bed at night.
Don Ratkowski, a former U.S. Marine, works at MSI Guns in Roseville. He is working on a memoir entitled “Whiskey Sierra.”