I grew up in a gun-free household. I’ve little practical knowledge or experience with firearms. After living in northern California for many years (where the prevailing attitude is that only bad people have guns – unless you’re a member of law enforcement), my family relocated to Washington state (where guns are far more typical in various hunting and entertainment capacities).
In cities there is an interesting mix of public gun stores that fall into two primary categories. The first are businesses established for the intent to buy and sell guns; the second are people who collect guns and at some point have to file for a collector’s permit to legally possess beyond a certain number. I don’t know the specifics so don’t get all excited if my details are incorrect.
I understand the collecting idea – people hoard all sorts of weird things. I have a…nevermind. In the country, people’s attitudes about guns is more relaxed.
Shortly after we moved to this community, we stopped at a gas station on a Saturday morning. My husband got out to pump gas and went inside the store to buy some beverages. I lollygagged in the car when it suddenly registered that the man standing last in line, behind the half dozen people waiting at the register, was holding a gun. A big gun. Not discreet. He had a rifle in his hands.
This seemed a smidge unusual to me.
I attempted to calm my central nervous system with the observation that the fellow was patiently waiting at the END of the line. It seemed unlikely he was there to perpetrate a crime unless he was a very polite bandit. People continued to walk in and out of the store and paid no attention to the fact there was an armed individual inside. Business was brisk.
I was new to the area. Could be this was normal behavior? Maybe people took their firearms out in public often. I don’t know. In California someone would have called an attorney already and the media would have sent out a helicopter with a camera-man dangling from the undercarriage (news story at 5).
Then another person got in line, holding a handgun. New Guy’s pistol was big enough to give Dirty Harry barrel envy. About then my husband walked toward the door, paused to exchange a few words with the guy holding the pistol. He exited and returned to the car.
He was amused by the expression on my face.
Apparently, along with the regular mini-market store inside the building, there’s also a lunch counter and a gun shop. In case you missed that…there’s a gun store inside the local gas station. This struck me as hysterical, ironic, and lunatic all at the same time. A commercial jingle ran through my head: come on in, fill up with gas, pick up some snacks for the kids, and snag a new revolver for your honey…
Patrons can order lunch at the counter, gas up their vehicle, grab some beef-jerky and a six-pack, and take a browse through the gun shop. But there’s only one register, and if you buy a gun you’ve got to get in line with the rest of the shoppers.
So when a crowd forms at the register, there might be a customer holding a firearm. That’s got to be a bit of a deterrant. I’d wager no one’s been dumb enough to try and hold up that gas station. I call it the Stop & Rob. As it turns out, the place is really convenient when I’m doing writing research. If I have a gun question and I can’t find the answer – there’s nothing these guys don’t know about firearms. No matter how obscure the question, someone in the gun shop knows the answer or where to look.
Lest you think we’re just weird – a neighboring community has a combination Radio Shack and donut shop. Stop in, buy some batteries and pick up a crueller. Okay, so maybe it’s the region, but I don’t think so.
Have any unusual shopping combinations in your local burg? Does it catch you off-guard to see people toting guns around? What sort of local anomalies have you spotted?