When I first applied for a job at the gun store where I used to work, I asked the manager interviewing me if customers often asked stupid questions. He looked me in the eye and, with a barely perceptible smirk, replied, “humans are full of stupidity.” In my time with the company, I learned firsthand just how right he was. From people asking for products that didn’t exist to state troopers making arrests in the parking lot, we had so many memorable experiences that I got the idea of putting together a bingo card with the most notable, frustrating, and downright bizarre ones. Gun Store Bingo quickly became a popular pastime at our location, growing in scope to include multiple cards.
For the edification of those of you out there who’ve worked behind the counter, I’ve put together a card based on the ones we used at work, albeit without some of the entries that were more specific to our store. Below, I give the context for each square on the bingo card. Keep in mind that each of these just references something memorable that happened more than once at work, not necessarily a customer doing something stupid, so don’t feel bad if you as a customer have asked or done one of these things.
Micro Draco – A pistol version of the AKM, chambered in 7.62×39. Its 6.25” barrel and lack of a stock render it completely impractical for any purpose other than annoying other shooters with the blinding, concussive muzzle blast. When a customer asked for a Micro Draco, we knew he wasn’t a serious buyer and was only attracted to them after seeing one in a “gangsta rap” music video.
Asks for gunsmith, means armorer – In civilian terminology, an armorer can assemble and repair firearms, whereas a gunsmith is a machinist who can fabricate and tolerance new parts from scratch. Most laypeople understandably don’t know the difference; that isn’t their fault, but it can lead to some funny situations. I once had a customer ask for a gunsmith to change out the stock on his AR-15. Without moving from the stool behind the register, I showed him how to do it in less than 30 seconds with no tools.
TWO WORLD WARS – A platitude uttered by 1911 enthusiasts to justify their preference for an overweight and obsolete handgun. Hey, I like 1911s as much as the next guy, but I can justify it as a matter of personal preference. There’s nothing wrong with liking things just because!
Denied – A customer failed his or her background check. For privacy reasons, we aren’t given a reason for the denial, but the customer is legally allowed to contact the proper authorities (in Virginia, the State Police) to find out.
Asks for owner/claims to know owner – The customer is lying through his teeth. Yes, this has happened multiple times.
“Stopping Power” – A mostly meaningless term used by two types of customers: one is trying to justify his subjective tastes, the other is a newbie who wants a handgun for personal protection. Terminal performance can’t really be objectively calculated and compared using a single number.
Brings in loaded firearm – If you bring a gun into a gun store, please, PLEASE, ask permission first and bring it in with the action open. I’ve had customers hand me loaded guns on multiple occasions.
Underage – We’d occasionally get someone in who was eager to learn about firearms so he or she could make an informed decision on what firearm to buy before he or she was old enough to legally make the purchase. In that case, we were always happy to help. Occasionally, though, someone would try to pull a fast one on us and ask to handle a firearm. When in doubt, always ask for ID!
Cheaper online guy – If you can find whatever you’re looking for cheaper online, that’s great! Tell me where you found it so I can jump on that deal too. Please, though, don’t complain to me about how much something costs. I don’t set the prices; I just work behind the counter.
Unknowingly asks for something illegal – No, I will not attach a vertical foregrip to your pistol. No, you do not get to skip a background check just because you work for the FBI. No, I’m not allowed to sell you a machine gun or a suppressor if you don’t have the tax stamp for it.
Confused about slide lock on empty magazine – If you aren’t familiar with the controls of a firearm you’re interested in, just ask! Your friendly neighborhood gun salesmen would rather give you a quick tutorial than watch as you try to slingshot the slide on a pistol with an empty magazine in it. Sometimes we’d have customers who claimed to know a lot about guns who still made that mistake.
Case, means holster – Before working at a gun store, I’d never heard of people calling a holster a “case.” After leaving, I’ve never heard of it again. When a customer uses bizarre incorrect terminology that the employee can’t understand, it creates a frustrating experience for both parties.
Out of state – We’d often have people drive more than an hour south from Maryland to try to buy handguns because of our better selection, then get mad at us when we refused. Generally speaking, a dealer isn’t allowed to sell a handgun directly to a non-resident without transferring it through another dealer in the buyer’s state of residence. Check your laws before making the trek!
Asks for gun from video game – Occasionally, around the time the local high schools let out, a gaggle of rowdy teenagers would tear through the store and ask about fictitious weapons. It was even funnier when one of them pointed to one on the rack and called it a made-up name from whatever video game.
Tries to walk in before/after close – This probably happens at every retail establishment. Our hours are posted on the door!
Doesn’t know what gun they own – If you need parts, service, magazines, accessories, ammunition, or anything else that might be specific to your firearm, make sure you know what you have. I know that most people reading this won’t make this mistake, but if you aren’t really a gun person, there’s a lesson in this for you. Knowing just the make, model, and caliber will help the store employees help you.
Shows up 5 minutes after transfer delivered – When a dealer receives a firearm transfer, usually from an online store, the employees usually have a form to fill out to make sure the gun is logged in the A&D books. They’ll call you when they’re ready to complete the transfer.
“Are you an FFL?” – Yes. We, a gun store, are in fact licensed to sell guns.
Asks for old or rare ammo – As someone who owns multiple obsolete military surplus firearms, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to find weird ammunition like 7.7mm Japanese. I always felt kind of bad having to say “no” to customers searching for something like 6.5mm Carcano, .32 Smith & Wesson, or .480 Ruger. If we received several requests for the same thing, often 7.92×57 and .224 Valkyrie, I’d put in a request to upper management to order some.
“Glock caliber rounds” – Do you put Nissan octane gasoline in your Altima?
Airsoft – This shouldn’t be taken to make fun of all airsoft players. When asked, we’d redirect customers to the Walmart a few miles down the road.
Smells like weed – Because dealers are licensed federally, they must comply with federal regulations concerning things like drug users buying firearms, even if those drugs are legal in the state. As such, even otherwise legal marijuana users are barred from purchasing firearms—especially if they shuffle into the store reeking of the stuff, eyes bloodshot and speech slurred. This is actually a subject of significant legal dispute and might change in the near future.
“Best gun” – Prospective first-time buyers often asked what the “best” was of whichever type of firearm they were interested in, usually handguns. I would always reply that if there was only one “best” handgun, we would only carry that one model. Then, I would explain that whereas some manufacturers are known for better quality, each firearm is designed to fit a particular niche in the market—not to mention the role personal preference plays. One person’s preferred concealed carry pistol might not be the same as his best friend’s, and neither one will be nearly as good for competitive shooting as an entirely different pistol designed specifically for that purpose.
Field strip w/o asking – Most gun stores don’t allow customers to disassemble firearms at all, and for very good reason. For example, I once had a customer take apart a Canik pistol before I could stop him, saying that he knew what he was doing because he had the same model. As it turned out, he did not, and I had to pull the manual from the storage room in the back to find out how to get the slide back onto the frame. Pro tip: not all Canik TP9s break down the same way.