Saturday, April 18, 2015

Unusual Encounter

When deciding to enter the firearms business many veterans salesmen explained to me there would be occasions that would be unusually interesting. Some would be extremely unusual and some downright peculiar. One such firearm sale/transfer happened to me last weekend.

A man and woman approached the gun desk to look upon all the offerings in the cabinet and on the wall. I approached and asked if they would like to see something. This couple was in their sixties. He was a mountain of a man standing about 6'5" with a thick white handlebar mustache. She was slight by comparison and obviously his mate. He asked to take a look at the Mossberg 22LR rifle that looks like an AR15.

As I went over to the rifle rack, unlocked the security bar and reached for the rifle I heard her say loudly, "Of fvck, that looks like a goddamn machine gun"! I turned to assure her it only appeared to be an AR but was in reality a Mossberg .22 plinkster masquerading as a military rifle. "You are all nuts", she claimed. "I know a machine gun when I see one." He smiled as I removed the trigger lock, cleared the rifle and handed it over for his inspection. She turned away with arms folded in obvious disgust.

Here is something I will rarely admit. I never openly trash any firearm at any time but this particular Mossberg rifle is not of very high quality. These sell for $265, more than a basic but solid Ruger 10/22. Two friends of mine bought these Mossberg rifles years ago for shits and giggles and would like to get rid of them. Try as they might they can not sell them. These rifles have the appearance of a military battle rifle and the action of a cheap .22LR. These are accurate but jam often and a have an awkward mag eject. Owners I know personally have expressed buyer's remorse.

The physical appearance sports a plastic shroud, handle, pistol grip, 25 round magazine and forward picatinny quadrails that appear menacing. The charging handle is nothing more than an ersatz decoration. Nothing about the action of this rifle is true to the AR15 platform and feels cheap. This matters not to the many customers who buy strictly based on appearance. 

My customer fumbled handling it. He appeared to be handicapped although he didn't appear so at first. He decided to purchase the rifle. As I turned to place it back on display his wife was placing an array of identification on the counter. There were both of their driver licenses, a conceal carry permit, a VA photo ID and another photo ID of his that indicated he is an official retired county sherif deputy.

As I was about to explain the background check process he told me his wife would be filling out the 4473 form. I asked who would be making this purchase, being aware of straw purchase tactics. What she said next floored me.

"My husband is legally blind", she admitted. I then noticed his thin eye lids and swollen sockets. He sure looked blind to me once she made the claim. His loss of sight was inconsequential to me.

The lady went on to explain that they go through this process every time he wants to buy a firearm. She fills out the portion on the form for personal identification. After she explained their previous background check procedures I asked which one of them would be making the actual purchase. She became verbally and physically "testy" with me. I did my best to explain my response and that this was an unusual request in my short experience. Since we must fully comply with state and federal laws I needed to reference my manual just to be certain.

It is legal for handicapped individuals to purchase, own firearms and use. No law claims they cannot. Blindness is a handicap and falls within federal and state regulations. There are outfitters aimed at accommodating handicapped hunter. This couple had every legal right to make the purchase as long as the background check results gave me a "proceed".

In an instance of a handicapped individual it is OK for the wife or relative to proceed in filling out the background check paperwork. What I needed were impartial witnesses. I called an assistant store manager over and another person to ask if they would witness this unusual background check procedure. This took a while and the customers understood. When she is finished with the upper section she verbally asked him all the required questions and when he answers she checks the boxes yes or no.

When it came time to sign the document she guided his finger to the signature line and then the date box. He signed and dated the document with excellent penmanship as if he had full vision. I copied all their ID for the record. The background check result was to proceed. This old deputy was buying a new rifle and we did everything in full compliance.

On this same day I was training a new employee. This was a hell of a transfer for his orientation.

As a store policy we must accompany the customer and the product out the door and hand it to them outside. Steve, the new employee performed that duty. When he returned Steve told me he asked the deputy what he would be using the rifle for.

The deputy lived on a farm. He wanted a fun rifle for his grandchildren to plink with when they made a visit.

Another satisfied customer and just another day on the job.


Dan from Madison said...

Wow that is a weird transaction.

Just curious - why can't the customer take the purchase out of the store? I have never heard of that one and every purchase I have made I walked out with the firearm.

Gerry from Valpo said...

Can't answer that one. This is store policy and there are many others that are odd.

Carl from Chicago said...

You definitely see a lot of weird stuff there. But all of humanity comes through the gun store at some point I guess.

Terry from Crown Point said...

"Would this be where I can git me a huntin" license?"