In a recent email exchange about ammunition, Dan and Carl both referred to my reports "from the front lines". After giving that some thought, it's true.
When I began my new job last July my intent was to stay busy, be among products I like and use, to be among like-minded individuals, to learn a bit more about hunting, firearms and ammunition and to make a few bucks on the side at the same time. Little did I know I would be thrust onto the retail front lines of freedom due to that recent unnecessarily violent human event that occurred in Connecticut and residual effects.
Well before that horrific human event in Connecticut many customers were already buying a certain category of rifle that is cosmetically similar to and confused with those used by the military. They also wanted to buy the ammunition used to feed these rifles. They knew as well as I did, circumstances now place us all closer to losing more freedom and liberty with every news event that happens to come our way.
Congruently many consumers were purchasing home and personal defense shotguns and handguns like never before. Seems they were all on to something.
We are there to help the customer make the best choice and that doesn't include loading them up with products that are either not necessarily in their best interest or to increase the average transaction, that's not what we're about. It matters not if customers are hunters, sportsmen or others seeking outdoor living enhancements we help them make the best choices. While we in our department deal mainly with hunters of all types a surprising number of customers are seeking practical solutions guaranteed by our Constitutional Second Amendment right. I watched this phenomenon grow as time went on.
I see and meet a lot of first time buyers. They are black, white, asian, hispanic, and hindu as well as European immigrants. I am often asked my opinion on what is the best self defense device for either home or personal protection by firemen, bricklayers, steelworkers, accountants, doctors, lawyers and businessmen. I know this because during our conversation they will either tell me their occupation or their apparel gives it away. There are also a surprising number of women of all legal ages purchasing small revolvers to tuck into their purse (we also carry special women's purses that allow for easy concealment and easy access) for the first time.
When asked I will tell them the best home defense device is a shotgun loaded with 00 Buckshot. While most go along others insist on purchasing a handgun because it serves two purposes in this tight economy.
On a daily basis I now meet in person innocent law abiding citizens who are living in fear, especially in Illinois and specifically in Chicago. Here, east of the border we refer to them as The Royal Subjects of Illinois. They tell me how their once peaceful and safe neighborhood has suddenly turned into easy pickings for vandals, rapists and thieves.
Once quiet autumn nights are now sounding like the 4th of July they tell me. Elderly folks are unable to relocate and need to stand their ground. Parents of younger children feel defenseless while walking little Judy and Johnny to and from the school bus stop on the corner. They all are looking for one thing, personal protection. I hear these stories and it makes me sad that so many now live with fear and intimidation, something unfamiliar to me. Fortunately we are protected by The Constitution of the United States of America, the supreme law of the land which guarantees us the right to possess and use personal protection if one's very existence is being threatened.
In each and every case I encourage first time buyers to take classes in handling their firearms. After they pass their background check and make their firearm purchase I counsel them in the different types of ammunition and their specific purposes. I then steer them toward a nearby indoor or outdoor shooting range (we have maps) where they hold NRA sanctioned personal hands-on instruction on the dangers and benefits of personal protection for law abiding Americans.
On some weekends the store has a table and display set up where the NRA is signing up new members. Add to that the ex-military and moonlighting law enforcement professionals signing up these newly armed citizens for private instruction with their organization. These men and women have started up a successful independent business teaching everything from handling a dangerous encounter to cleaning and maintenance. Instructors are qualified and licensed. The company owner tells me they have been doing a very brisk business, especially with female customers. I grinned and told him it sounded like a great way to meet chicks. He just winked.
Fast forward to two weeks ago.
Since that nauseating human event in Connecticut happened things have been a bit different. I have noticed a lower proportion of hunters (the seasons are all nearly over) coming in while more shooting enthusiasts and self-protection seekers enter to buy and stock up. A great deal of them are interested in arms and ammunition that are now said to be targeted for ban by opportunistic politicians and the east coast ministry of media propaganda.
The run on ammunition such as the .233 Remington and 5.56 NATO has been nothing short of astonishing to me. In about four days the entire existing stock was gone, nationwide. In addition the stock of PMAG's, a quality magazine that is capable of holding 30 rounds of the aforementioned cartridges were wiped out in an amazing two days. That equates to tens of thousands of rounds of ammo and a few thousand magazines at our one retail outlet alone. The handgun ammo shelves are now very thin just as they were four years ago.
Being busy at the store is an understatement. I have been putting in 8-10 hour days to help serve the sudden customer demand. And this was originally intended to be part-time job.
Customers seem more than willing to engage me in political discussion. I only nod my head or shrug my shoulders. We've been told during a store-wide employee meeting to be aware that representatives of the media have been reported to be using sneaky-cams and recording devices while shopping the fun stores pretending to be customers. Their mission is to catch someone off-guard with an action or a simple statement that feeds their media misinformation agenda.
One such suspect approached me recently during a busy afternoon. He was a young male model looking metrosexual man dressed in a fashionable flannel coat accompanied by an attractive female friend wearing tight-fitting camo pants. Something seemed out of place about these two. His question: What do you think of magazine plugs for handgun magazines? The discussion went something like this:
Me: (honestly) Not sure what you mean sir.
Him: Well, I have a few handguns and live in Cook County Illinois. My handgun magazines hold over ten rounds of ammunition so I bought these magazine plugs online which when installed limits the magazine to hold only ten rounds. Since they now hold more than ten rounds I keep them in another county, at a friend's house, in order to, you know, obey the law (I am unaware of this specific law).
Me: I see. I never heard of them but I am familiar of plugs for shotgun magazines. Since my Browning 12ga. shotgun will hold five rounds a plug must be inserted that restricts the magazine to hold three in accordance with federal waterfowl regulations in order to hunt ducks and geese anywhere in the US. Have you ever considered buying lower capacity magazines?
Him: Uh huh. Umm, yeah. But does having these plugs make my handgun legal in Cook County since they are removable?
Me: (detecting a potential a trap.) Sir, you should read and study the Illinois firearm regulations. I am not that familiar with them.
Him: I have a feeling these plugs aren't legal. Should I care? What would you do if you were in my situation?
Me: Well, I live in Indiana where the laws regarding firearms are quite sane and simple. In no way would I suggest you break a law anywhere. Sorry I can't give you an informed answer.
Him: Well, thanks. Maybe I need to do some more research.
Me; Yessir, good idea. Anything else I can help you out with?
Were they media spies? Don't know, don't care. Just practicing my situational awareness in light of the onslaught of media generated misinformation.
Customers have been acting like greedy pigs lately. How can I blame them? The phone calls are constant and I see some of the same customers arrive daily, usually very early in the morning. They all ask the same questions. Any ammo come in yet? Can I buy in bulk? Any PMAG's in stock? Any AR's come in or are you taking orders on them yet? No, no, no and no. We just don't know, honest we don't. Sorry.
Before opening last Tuesday the manager told us one half skid of .223 Rem was in the warehouse. He didn't want any of us to get mauled again so he told us to place them in an inconspicuous place before the doors opened. I did. It took all of fifteen minutes after opening before they were discovered even though they were still in their brown cardboard cases on a pallet. A customer approached me asking how much each box cost since I had not yet displayed the price sign. I didn't know so I looked it up. They were now asking $9.99 for a box that cost $7.99 a few weeks ago. He inquired about the price per case. After pointing to the ten box per customer limit sign he wasn't happy, in fact he got a bit pissy with me.
After printing and placing a sign on the stack and cracking a few cases I noticed another regular. He is a slight man in his fifties wearing a Glock hat who was all smiles until he saw the limit sign. He asked, "what if I buy ten boxes (200 rounds), go to my truck, return and buy ten more, will anyone give me a problem?" I shrugged. You see the sign I told him, that's all I know. This little fellow has been in early each day looking for more ammo to buy. He likes to talk to employees and just kind of hang around. We all know him and we will talk to him but then act as if we are getting a message on the two-way earpiece and gracefully excuse ourselves. He then goes on to hit on the next employee to ramble about the upcoming Feinstein bill, the leftist media or something related.
He left the store with his ten boxes but about fifteen minutes later he returned. He came back about three more times that I counted. I understood.
Being on the front line requires understanding. And compassion. And love. After all there's one element of our society that simply cannot wait until they take away more of our rights.