Don’t be “That Guy” in a gun store

By: Joshua Gideon

I had the fortunate opportunity to support a new local gun store this past weekend by being available to answer defensive firearms questions customers had throughout the course of the day. I had a great time interacting with so many people who were curious and eager to learn. It was a very rewarding experience and I hope to get the chance to do it again. As great as the day was, there wasn’t a shortage of “that guy” in the gun store.

In order to explain, I have to describe two fathers who came in with their son. The first father was probably in his mid-30’s and came strolling in with his seven year old son. On the way in he stopped at the raffle case and pointed to the gun on display while getting his son’s attention. He had a smile on his face and I could tell both of them were excited to check out the new gun store in town. As the father opened the door to look inside, I overheard his fatherly advice, “You can look but don’t touch unless you ask first.” Advice I am fondly familiar with, as my parents would tell me the same thing. It gave me the freedom that I desired with the control that I needed.

Now let me describe the second father and son before I explain what happened. The second father was one of those guys that knows everything about everything. You’ve met him, he’s always the smartest guy in the room. As this father walked up he looked at the raffle display, shrugged his shoulders, rolled his eyes, and shook his head while he walked inside. There was no conversation with his son, but it was clear that he wasn’t allowed to do much when he was in the store. As his father walked in, he made a comment about how small the building was and how few guns they had. The negativity was pretty clear and he was clearly not impressed.

Both fathers were in the store at the same time, walking in seconds after each other. The son of the first father was very curious and looked around politely as his father browsed and purchased ammo. He patiently waited for me to finish talking to another customer before he told me that he had a .22 like the one on the wall, except it didn’t have a “clip” on it. I’ve been in this industry long enough to know people get all hung up on calling a magazine a clip. I get it. However, there is a time and a place to correct people of any age. I asked the kid if he would like to see the gun and his eyes lit up as he shook his head. I showed him how to hold it and moved his finger when it moved towards the trigger. Without saying a thing, he got my point and nodded. I didn’t need to embarrass him.

I put the gun back up on the wall and he thanked me and told me he hoped he could get one of those guns with a “clip” some day. I responded that I hoped he could get a gun with a “clip” too. (In all fairness, the gun did have a “clip” that held the “magazine” in place.) Evidently this was just too much for the second father to bear and he decided to be “that guy” and commented to me that it wasn’t a clip, it was a magazine. I looked at him, shook my head and shot him a look that could only be interpreted as “ease up buddy, he’s a kid” and said, “it depends on who you ask” (meaning to a seven year old kid who’s new to guns and has no clue on gun lingo, it’s a clip). He shook his head and demanded, “No, it’s a magazine!” as he promptly cut between the kid and the counter while darting for the exit (with his son trying to tag along behind). Looking back at the first kids father, he just gave me that look like, “That guy was a jerk, don’t worry about it.” Then he and his son left with a bag full of ammo and a nothing but smiles on their faces.

I can imagine that second father has told the story to a dozen of his buddies on the Internet about how the people at that gun store down there, “don’t know the difference between a clip and a magazine.” I am sure he left there feeling like he was smarter than everyone else there. I’m not even sure he had listened to the whole conversation before he decided to interrupt. I am sure he never once thought how his comments might have hurt that young impressionable future gun owner.

As gun people, we NEED those that fall out of the demographic of the typical gun guy. We need more women shooters, more kids excited about shooting sports, more people on opposite sides of the political spectrum making the decision to arm themselves for self defense. If we are supporters of the 2nd Amendment like we say we are, we should be welcoming with open arms these new shooters. If we truly believe that everyone should have the right to own a firearm, then we need to understand there is a time and place to correct people. Correcting a seven year old in the middle of a crowded gun store is neither the time nor the place.

If you just want the 2nd Amendment and shooting sports to be a good old boys club that dwindles into extinction over time, then by all means, be “that guy”. If you are like me and want to see the 2nd Amendment and shooting sports survive generations to come, be patient with new shooters, don’t get frustrated when they use the incorrect terms, and encourage them to get training to improve there knowledge. Whatever you do, don’t be “that guy” in a gun store.