Insights with Sticky Holsters
Gun Shop Etiquette- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Written by: Eric Rice and Mike Christoff
2020 was a chaotic and historic year filled with political craziness, a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and civil unrest. With so many uncertain of the future, people flocked into gun shops across the country buying anything and everything they could get their hands on. With this massive influx of new people to the 2nd Amendment family I thought it a good idea to cover some gun shop etiquette. You don’t know what you don’t know and you won’t know until someone teaches you.
I have spent A LOT of time in gun shops, and on both sides of the counter, either as an employee or a customer. Before I worked at Sticky Holsters, I worked at one of the largest independent chain gun shops in the country. Mike previously owned his own gun shop so together we bring you the good, the bad and the ugly.
- This should be fun and exciting, so go into it with a positive attitude and a smile.
- Be patient. Gun shops have been extremely busy and most are over worked and understaffed. Imagine Chik-Fil-A at noon, all day every day. That is gun shops now. Ask the sales associate when the best time to come in is and who to speak with to get some information without delaying their ability to service other customers.
- Let the sales associate know you are a beginner and need assistance from the ground up. That will let he/she know where you are knowledge wise and can tailor their delivery of information so it’s a good experience for both of you. Ask your friends or family members who may have some previous gun buying experience what local gun shops they know to have the best customer service and try those shops first.
- Go in with an open mind and enjoy the experience. You will visit good and bad gun shops, but you can learn from both. Talk to other people in the store and get their perspectives on guns and gear. Gun shops/ranges are fun happy places with a lot of neat toys.
- Securing some basic firearms knowledge is highly recommended prior to “shopping” for firearms and accessories. Imagine shopping for a car and not knowing how to drive? The gun shop may offer basic courses or may recommend some local instructors that offer that service. Most times, it is money well spent.
- Do not go into it with assumptions or a bad attitude, especially if you are new to firearms and the process. Don’t get angry or upset. There are thousands of rules and laws that gun shops and their employees must follow. And yes, you have to have a background check and in most states you will have to come back a few days later to take possession of your firearm, unless there is an exception like having a Concealed Weapons Permit.
- Do not “joke” about anything illegal. Illegal activities with firearms is not funny nor a joking matter. Gun shops and ranges should be fun, but in a serious manner. You are dealing with things that can kill people. There is a time to be serious and a time to goof off. A gun shop is not for the later.
- Do not walk into a shop with an uncased firearm. Keep all firearms in a case, bag, or container until instructed to do so. If you don’t have one, make sure the firearm is unloaded and has either a trigger lock or chamber flag in the firearm.
- Do not complain about the lack of inventory, or how much ammo costs. You are buying at a historic time. The firearms industry has never seen demand like this, ever. Be patient and understanding. It is simple economics, when demand goes up, so does the price.
- Do not open product packages (ammo boxes, clam shells, etc) without first asking a sales associate. If you do open it, please put it back the correct way, and in the correct spot. Sales associates spend hours a day fixing, re-organizing and straightening displays so you the customer can have a pleasant shopping experience.
- Do NOT unholster your concealed firearm inside the store for any reason. Ever.
- Do NOT point the firearm at anyone.
- Do NOT just pick up a firearm, and then start pulling the trigger. Clear all firearms as soon as you touch them, ALWAYS. (Visually and physically confirm the firearm is unloaded, while pointed in a safe direction). Follow the four rules of firearm safety.
- Do NOT spin revolver cylinders and slam them shut or dry fire any firearms without asking, especially rimfire firearms.
- Do NOT commit a straw sale. Employees of gun shops are trained to notice signs and indications of such a sale. If a straw sale is suspected you will be asked to leave and possibly trespassed from the property.
I hope this helps and give you some insight into how your first gun buying experience should be. When in doubt, just be happy, courteous, respectful and conduct yourself in a safe manner. Remember if you don’t know, ask. For the most part, the firearms community is a big family, and most are willing to help and give you advice.
Please let us know your thoughts and some of your experiences in the comment section below.
Carry on and be safe.