Saturday, May 1, 2021

This Must Drive the Gun Banners Crazy

Go to and enter "Gun sales": the number of official news media reporting on this are amazing.  Of course, they are trying to spin this.  4/29/21 NBC News headline:

"Gun sales to Black buyers have surged. Gun store ownership by Black people has not.

"Out of 6,000 gun stores in the U.S., just a handful have Black owners."

The article itself interviews black gun store owners and black gun owners, emphasizing that many blacks feel uncomfortable buying guns in gun stores where no one looks like them.

I do not doubt this.  When I bought my first gun in 1981, a Colt Government Model at Martin B. Rettig in Culver City, California, I was a bit uncomfortable.   But looking around the store I saw a number of black customers.   They were all dressed in their best "go to church" suits.  I suspect that they were concerned that the widespread perception of black people as criminals required their best possible appearance.  (The white customers were dressed casually.)

This is most unfortunate.   Their perception of how whites would see them was even then not an accurate reflection of how whites saw them.  Unfortunately, a few bad people can make those of us who do not burn crosses look like bad people. Obviously, coming in dressed in do-rags would have been a problem, but there were plenty of styles that had I worn them at 23 would have made me stand out as suspect also.

I look forward to the day when black men and women feel comfortable buying guns from white people because they know what most whites believe: the content of your character matters, not the color of your skin.

A friend contributed this:

Terry's Story

Working at the San Francisco Gun Exchange in the mid-1970's, I saw a fair share of the dark side, Black Panther women looking to buy the Valmet M62 ( a super well made variant of the AK-47 in semi-auto ), The Symbionese Liberation Army ( while holding & Stockholm Syndroming Patty Hearst ) likewise sent in a disguised  female sympathizer to buy a crate of ammo, and so forth.  Black folk were treated politely and appropriately but most were fairly well dressed.

One busy day a noticed a shy black fellow standing in the middle of the sales floor amazed by the array of guns surrounding him, and the usual downtown San Francisco lunchtime crowd of Standard Oil execs, Formost McKesson execs, Banking barons, FBI agents and a host of collectors all come to view what new today.  This large fellow was wearing somewhat soiled denim coveralls with a white T-shirt and work boots.  Later I would think of him every time I saw 'The Green Mile'.

I beckoned him over ahead of the usual customers wanting to yak and asked if I could help him.  He said shyly that he was looking for a gun, I asked rifle or handgun, a handgun it was.  I walked along the handgun display cases ' Colt run $400-ish, Smith & Wessons $300-ish, Rugers $200 ish' and as we arrived at the last case, 'Harrington & Richardsons, around $100'.  "Now let me tell you what I think I am seeing here:  Your hands tell me you are a hard working guy, woodwork, no metal, a machinist maybe, you live in the projects or an old neighborhood in Hunters Point and the good folk in your hood have always counted on you, the big brave guy, to chase the hoodlums away, but they have changed, become meaner and they carry knives and are willing to use them, perhaps even threatened you already, and you realize the cops can't be there when you need them and so you are here, tell me sir, are you a God-fearing man ?"  " Yessir, a Baptist" he replied. "Good, but the guardian Angels might have suggested you get some worldly help, and thats why you are here.  So you are concerned about assailants, not Wharf Rats or Raccoons or vicious dogs right?"  " I am afraid so" he replied.  "OK, and your budget is not enough for these other display cases, am I right?"  "Yessir, what have you under $100 that would work for defense"  " I would recommend a Harrington & Richardson break top in .38 Smith & Wesson caliber, $79, a box of ammo for $10, tax and all out the door just about $100."  "Is it quality? is it Safe? Would you own one?"  " Yes there is nothing wrong with this brand, they have been around for 100 years, they are well-made and suitable for defense, but are not fancy, they are a farmer - type gun, a working guy gun, just keep it clean and oiled and it will serve you well".  I showed him how to operate it, described how to clean it, and even told him that if he must defend himself, to turn his huge torso sideways to reduce target size, aim straight down his arm and squeeze.  We completed the transaction, he waited the 5 days 'waiting period' and having passed the California State Police background check, returned to pick it up.  He was dressed the same way ( he had apparently come a long way on his lunch hour to do this ), he asked a few final questions and as he left I bid him good luck and God Bless, and I noted that he walked out taller, straighter, more confident and smiling and greeting the suits entering the store as they were now equals.

I sometimes wonder what ever happened to him, did he chase off the hoodlums ?  Did they lay an evil trap and finally do him in?  I can only hope that the ruffian cowards he faced saw something they had not before, a determined, armed man standing up to them.

( copyright 2021  excerpt from  'Notes from the South End of Purgatory'  T. Allen Hoover )

permission granted Clayton Cramer to use in blog/firearm education


  1. Agree. It will be nice when we are able to get past the broad brush of "they" to mean all of the group as represented by a handful, on BOTH sides of whatever the equation is at the moment. Somehow I don't see it in my lifetime and time is running out. Maybe the grandkids will have it better.

    Love "Terry's Story."

    1. Too much opportunity to provoke hatred, the most powerful of Satan's weapons, for it to go away.

  2. I bought my first gun (An AR-7, late Armalite build, finish like it was dunked in a bucket of paint) at Martin B. Retting in 1975 or so....I also took my son, and daughter, there (although we lived in Santa Clarita by then) to buy their first.

    As many of the milestones of my life disappear in the rear-view mirror (Family and friends passing, buildings and neighborhoods in West LA changing or disappearing, various military aircraft I flew not only obsolete, but blown up, etc) it brings me some small sense of continuity that MBRetting is still there.

    Whenever I can visit LA, I stop in, just for the ambience.

    1. My first rifle was also an AR-7. The black crackle finish was unattractive but otherwise a neat gun.

  3. There are a lot of fun shops that are like biker bars or hard core truck stops. When you walk in, you immediately know you aren't one of the tribe. Buying a first gun from one of these places can be intimidating.

    The newer "gun culture 2.0" shops are more open aired, well lit, and service oriented. They are a great place to buy a first gun, but an awful place to get a deal. Things usually go for full retail in those shops.