Goodbye To All That – I Close My Gun Shop.


              This past Friday I sold my gun shop – every good thing comes to an end. This was the third retail gun shop I owned and operated in three states – South Carolina, New York, and Massachusetts – and sold guns to somewhere around 12,000 customers who also bought ammunition, cleaning kits and assorted other gun junk.

              I started running my third and last gun shop in 2001, in fact I opened the store about a month before the Twin Towers came down. So, the shop was busy for a couple of months, then things calmed down for the next seven years, got busy again when Obama came on the scene, and then calmed down again under Trump.

              Of the 7,000 or so guys (and a few gals) who bought guns from me over the last 20 years, just about all of them bought guns for the same reason that people buy everything else they don’t need, namely, they had a few extra bucks in their pockets and couldn’t figure out what to do with the cash except to get rid of it before going home.

              If you’re a gun dealer, the biggest joke in the gun business is that if you have to order a gun for someone and then call the guy’s house when the gun shows up from the wholesaler, ‘the wife’ always answers the phone. And when she asks, ‘who’s calling?’ you never, never tell her you’re calling from the gun shop because if you do, she’ll put down the phone and yell, “Henry, did you just buy another friggin’ gun?’

              My gun shop is located about two miles away from the nearest Walmart and Stop & Shop. At some point every day the front door would open, some guy would walk in and as he entered the shop he would take a quick look at his watch. This told me he had just dropped ‘the wife’ off at the Walmart, and as she got out of the car she said, “Come back and pick me up in 45 minutes or so,” and he would respond, “What am I supposed to do?”

              To which ‘the wife’ would answer, “Why don’t you go up to the gun shop and hang around?” God forbid she would suggest he go sit in the town library, okay?

              One of the last transactions I did at the shop was a ‘straw sale,’ when I sold a gun to someone whom I knew was buying the gun for someone else. This transaction, which is considered the single, worst, and most offensive behavior by the gun-control crowd, is known ‘for a fact’ to be the basic reason why guns keep ending up in the ‘wrong hands’ and could be stamped out if we would just pass that damn law requiring every state to implement universal background checks.

              Who bought the straw-sale gun in my shop? It was bought by some fifty-ish lady who dutifully signed the 4473 form saying that the gun was going to be owned and used by her. Standing next to her was her husband, who not only told her which gun he wanted, but as she waited for her background check to go through, was placing the gun into a carrying case which he had brought into the store.

              Why did ‘the wife’ buy the gun and why did I allow myself and her to engage in an illegal act which could get each of us five years in jail? Because when her husband was a kid, he did something stupid which kids do all the time, but this dumb piece of behavior got him in trouble with the cops which meant he could never legally buy a gun.

              Gun shops are almost always local affairs. They are located, for the most part, in crummy, little towns and the shop owner knows the personal backgrounds and personal gossip about everyone who comes into the shop. And the same people come into the shop all the time.

              What were the odds that this guy whose wife bought him that gun would ever do anything illegal or violent with that gun? The chances are that the gun would be taken home, dumped into the same closet with all the other guns, and then resold to the gun shop next year when ‘the wife’ needed a new washing machine or the guy needed a new set of tires for his truck.

              Think I’m kidding? I’m not. The reason that most gun owners support requiring a  background check for every transfer of a gun is that they know that, in reality, the law won’t prevent them from getting another gun.

              Note the word ‘reality’ in the previous sentence. This word has absolutely nothing to do with how the various gun-control organizations decide what issues to promote when they send out a message asking their supporters to ante up some cash.

              I received a solicitation letter yesterday from the Brady Campaign, to which I automatically donate $100 every month, and getting a national background-check law through Congress was at the top of their ‘to do’ list.

              Don’t get me wrong. When it comes to inventing and promoting ideas about guns which have no basis in truth or fact, pro-gun organizations are just as, or even more prone to flights of fancy than anything which comes out from the anti-gun side. Is there the slightest proof out there that a gun in the hands of some Clint Eastwood wannabee keeps everyone safe? 

              I have been in and out of the gun business for sixty years because I like guns. I certainly wasn’t in the gun business because I thought I could earn a decent living engaged in this trade. The biggest joke in the gun business is that if you want to make a million in guns, start with two million, okay?

              What am I going to do now with all the time I have on my hands because I’m not standing behind the counter of my gun shop? That’s simple enough – I’ll just go around and hang out in all the other shops.

Cuomo Versus Wayne-O. Who Wins?


In their quest to help Americans retain their civil rights during this period of great anxiety and fear, America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ has stepped up its messaging about the threat to 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ posed by COVID-19. First and foremost, our friends in Fairfax have sued Andy Cuomo who issued an executive order declaring that gun shops were ‘non-essential enterprises’ and therefore had to be shut down.

If nothing else, the NRA’s suit, which will quickly get tossed, is a bit of payback for the investigations and suits against the NRA which Andy has been pushing over the last couple of years. In particular, New York State has been trying to figure out whether the NRA has violated any of the state’s not-for-profit regulations since the gun organization happens to be incorporated in the Empire State. There’s also a messy little lawsuit filed by the State’s Department of Financial Services which claims that the NRA insurance program is basically a big scam (which it is.)

Behind all of these dustups is the fact that Andy has probably been the single, most aggressive public figure when it comes to screwing over the gun gang. As Bill Clinton’s Secretary of HUD, he drafted the infamous regulatory deal which Smith & Wesson signed in 2000 which almost brought the storied gun maker to its knees. He later rammed through a very tough gun law in New York State following the massacre at Sandy Hook and has just signed a tough red-flag law which goes into effect later this year. So, this guy’s no friend of Gun-nut Nation, that’s for sure. You can read the NRA’s filing right here.

Of course now that the national policy to deal with COVID-19 is being set by Rush Limbaugh, we can expect Gun-nut Nation to fall in line and continue to promote the idea that the best defense against a virus of still unknown origin is to load up the ol’ shooting iron and get ready to blast away. Thanks to the NRA, the 2nd Amendment is alive and well in at least 43 of the 50 states, with only Massachusetts, New York and New Mexicoforcing gun dealers to close down their shops, with another 4 states – Vermont, Michigan, Washington and California maybe doing the same thing. The NRA has obligingly put a map on their website so that everyone will know which states to avoid when rioting breaks out in the streets.

Interestingly, to the extent that we can use open source, internet media reports to understand anything, our friends at the Gun Violence Archive are saying that the number of gun homicides over the last several days is about half as many as the average number of such events which usually occur over that same period of time. So at least there are some populations out there who are practicing social distancing regardless of what the Trump/Limbaugh noise machine says.

Last week Trump’s son-in-law, whose entire medical training consists of managing a garden apartment complex in New Jersey, opened his yap and said that he had done a study which showed that many states were asking for more ventilators than they needed or could use.

He did a study. Like the study done by the NRA which proves that closing down gun shops is a threat to 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ That’s right. The filing in New York State specifically refers to the 2008 Heller decision which gives Constitutional protection to everyone who wants to keep a handgun in their home for self-defense. But what if you don’t have a handgun, especially when the hordes start running around looking to loot your home in order to get the food they need?

Okay. So, everyone’s a little crazy right now.  Please stay safe.

What The ATF Doesn’t Tell You About Gun Dealers.

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Now that The New York Times has pronounced that gun dealers are getting away with murder because the ATF lets all these rogue dealers stay in business no matter how many crime guns they sell, and now that the oracle of gun violence prevention, our friend Daniel Webster from Johns Hopkins has further declared that this article is a ‘must read’ because, after all, the NRA makes sure that all gun regulations are weaker than they should be, perhaps we might take a few minutes to set the record straight.

shop             I’m not saying that the article by Ali Watkins is wrong. But the headline, which I’m sure was stuck on to her interesting reportage came out of whatever department tries to attract readers to the NYT site.  The headline says: ‘When Guns Are Sold Illegally, A.T.F. Is Lenient On Punishment.’  No wonder Webster says this is a ‘must read.’ After all, he has been a leading proponent of the need to strengthen licensing at the counter-top through extending background checks to secondary sales.

There’s only one problem with Webster’s promotion of this article. If you actually read the whole thing, Ms. Watkins is saying much more than just that the ATF is letting all these bad-guy gun dealers off the hook. In fact, the whole idea of leniency on the part of the how the ATF regulates gun shops has to be seen in a much broader context which is discussed by Ali Watkins in detail. Maybe Webster doesn’t read details.

The article is based on ATF gun-shop inspection reports which Brady received from the ATF. For obvious reasons, some of the fields in the reports are redacted out, nor does the report necessarily contain all the information that would allow someone to determine the degree to which the ATF is actually letting dealers stay in business whose behavior should really get them shut down. What really comes out from these reports, however, is that conducting an inspection of a gun shop under the rules and regulations of GCA68 (the federal law which set up the entire regulatory system and placed it under the purview of the ATF) often requires judgements to be made for which the law either gives vague guidelines on how to proceed or no guidelines at all.

Watkins gives an example of a gun shop which was cited for releasing several guns without conducting a background check, and even though the shop had evidently failed to conduct a background check on another transfer at some point in time, thus making the second failure a ‘willful’ violation of the law, what this means is that the 4473 background check form did not contain information about when the background check took place (the requisite field on the form was blank) hence, it is assumed that no background check actually occurred.

Under law, the FBI cannot retain NICS information for more than 24 hours after a background check occurs. But if the requisite data is missing from the form, the ATF inspector has to cite this as a violation because absent the data, it is assumed that the check didn’t occur. And you wonder how, at the review level, a dealer can remain in business after committing such a serious offense? Give me a break, okay?

There isn’t a retail gun dealer in the United States who doesn’t know how to build a nice stash of guns and sell them illegally without involving himself in regulatory procedures at all. Whenever someone sells you a gun, and most gun shops have at least 40% used guns, all the dealer has to do is neglect to enter the gun into his acquisition list, which means that from a regulatory perspective, the gun doesn’t exist at all.

The ATF would like you to believe that the only thing which stands between all those rogue dealers and safety and security throughout the United States is the inspections they perform, albeit without enough manpower to do a proper job. Anyone who actually buys that nonsense has never stood behind a counter and sold guns.

When The NRA Talks About Gun Safety, It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means.

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With all the talk about how easy it is to get a gun through the internet, it figures that sooner or later gun dealers would start using wireless apps to spread the word about products, prices and where a gun nut should go if he wants to pick up another gun.  And the company that is kicking off this new venue is owned by a family now in its third generation of using media to promote guns.  The company, GunDealio, is the brainchild of Tom and Ryan Gresham, whose father and grandfather respectively was ‘Grits’ Gresham, who got into outdoor sports journalism and was host of the ABC television show, American Sportsman, from 1966 until 1979.

The new company is another offshoot of the Gresham media empire called GunTalk Media, which produces television and radio shows about guns and shooting and in particular is known for a radio show called GunTalk, which is syndicated nationally and usually plays Sunday afternoons on whatever AM talk-radio station captures the gun-owning crowd.

grits                The GunDealio app, which can be downloaded to iOS or Google, allows gun dealers to list whatever special deals will get customers into their stores.  As the number of app-holders grows, the plan is to let each gun shop push a notice or ad onto the mobile devices of everyone in the market area of that store, which means that as someone goes cruising down the street on the way to wherever they want to go, all of a sudden they’ll get a text or a pic which tells them to make a quick turn right in order to stop off and save thirty bucks on a new Glock.

It doesn’t surprise me that the Greshams or someone else would sooner or later come up with a mobile app that promotes the sale of guns.  Gun buyers are first and foremost hobbyists, they love to wander in and out of multiple stores and they’ll think nothing of taking off on a Saturday afternoon after they’ve finished the ‘honey-dos’ and driving fifty or a hundred miles to drop into two or three gun shops.

What I found interesting about the GunDealio story was not the use of mobile sales ‘push’ technology, which is becoming a standard part of sales and marketing strategies no matter what consumer product category is being discussed.  Rather, that I found interesting was the description of the mission of GunTalk Media which, according to the Greshams, produce shows that focus on “firearms, hunting and personal safety.”

Whoa!  Personal safety?  You mean media productions that explain the hows and whys of using guns in a safe way?  Just goes to show how little I really understand about an industry with which I have been involved for nearly forty years.  Because when the Greshams talk about ‘personal safety,’ they’re not talking about locking the guns or locking them away.  Actually, they get a fair share of advertising from companies that manufacture gun safes, but that has nothing to do with gun safety from their point of view.

What the Greshams mean when they use the term ‘gun safety’ is what the entire gun industry really means when they trot out that phrase, namely, how to use a gun to protect yourself from crime because –read the rest of this sentence closely – that’s the most important reason to own a gun.  I took a look at the last 10 podcasts listed on the show’s website, and half dealt primarily with products for self-defense.

Grandpa Gresham, who got the whole family into gun media in the first place, was an outspoken guy who wrote nine books on hunting and fishing and, as far as I can recall, never spoke about using guns for anything other than hunting and sport.  And that’s what the gun business was all about before the crazies took over the NRA and invented the stupid and cynical, but ultimately successful marketing strategy known as armed, self-defense.   Too bad the legacy of sportsmen like Grits Gresham is disappearing thanks to the efforts of people who bear his name.

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