Is that title a little clickbait-y? Maybe. But the most dangerous gun salesmen do exist. They just aren’t dangerous in the way you might have assumed I meant.
Obligatory Disclaimer: I am a firm believer in the Constitution and that all gun laws are infringements on the Second Amendment, so don’t think the type of firearm is what I believe makes him dangerous; it’s his ability to weaponize ignorance.
The most dangerous gun salesmen come in two varieties; ignorant and asshole.
Let’s touch on ignorance first since that’s the most commonly encountered form of the terrible gun salesman. Often they are mislabeled as a “Fudd,” but that would be unfair to the wet-behind-the-ears salesman.
A gun owner who falsely believes that the Second Amendment only applies to firearms they own or prefer. Often times they are in favor of so-called “common sense” gun control laws targeting what they view as “tactical rifles” like the AR-15 or AK-47. They don’t recognize that any gun law is an infringement on the Second Amendment as a result of their poor understanding of the Constitution’s purpose.
The ignorant salesman can be just as dangerous as the asshole if not well supervised. There is no malice intended. The poor bastard just doesn’t know any better.
Don’t fret, though, he isn’t necessarily a lost cause. The ignoramus will usually learn as his coworkers correct him. We can hope that time will teach the ignoramus and he will slowly become less of a danger to his fellow gun owners.
“They don’t know what they don’t know.” – Tom Victa
With any luck, the ignoramus won’t be able to afflict too many consumers, with eagle-eyed coworkers stepping in and providing the consumer with correct information. The ignorant salesperson’s largest contribution to the firearm industry is perpetuating hogwash gun store myths, but they rarely do any serious damage. (For more information, see “Fuddlore“)
How to Handle the Ignoramous
Handling an ignorant gun salesman isn’t an overwhelming challenge. The first step is to do your own research before making a purchase decision so any garbage information that may dribble out of the salesman’s mouth is entirely ineffective.
When the ignorant salesman says something like, “All defensive calibers start with a 4,” educate them a bit if you have the knowledge base and the time. If you don’t, but know they are wrong, challenge them to do some more reading. Information can be used as an effective weapon to slay ignorance as long as you use it properly.
A female customer approaches gun counter in search of a defensive firearm . . .
Ignorant Salesman: “Howdy!” tips fedora
Female Customer: “I’m looking for my first handgun.”
Ignorant Salesman: “Your best bet is a 5-shot snubby revolver little lady, it’s the perfect gun for a woman.”
Bystander You: “Ma’am, you might want to rent one of those before buying one, the recoil can be a bit painful.”
Ignorant Salesman: “That’s a good idea! Ma’am, would you like to test fire one first?”
We established that the ignoramus has his heart in the right place, but what about the specimen who only cares about hitting his sales target at the expense of the consumer? Allow me to introduce you to the “Asshole.” You might also know this salesman as “The Manager” or “Store Leader.”
This genus of gun salesman is the one that is actually dangerous and will leave those who know a few things about firearms to wake up in a cold sweat the night after shopping at their local gun emporium. Don’t worry too much, though, the chances of encountering an “asshole” salesman in the wild are slim and when you do find one, they stand out like a sore thumb.
You might notice that oftentimes the “asshole” is in some leadership role within the store thanks largely to placing sales goals above all else, but that isn’t what makes them an asshole.
The fact that they know they lack the knowledge to advise a customer and refuse to learn or take some classes is what earns them their asshole status. This hyper-focus on sales numbers before all else results in customers receiving incorrect, dangerous, or advice that could put them in violation of the law.
That’s right, we’re talking about the guy who will sell an AR pistol to someone and then recommend a vertical foregrip to capture the added margin on the sale of the accessory.
The heartbreaking thing is that some of these salespeople are fully aware that they are suggesting their customer breaks an unconstitutional federal law and don’t care because they are after that 0.5% commission kickback.
How to deal with the Asshole
Shop somewhere else. They aren’t interested in doing right by the customer. Vote with your wallet.
In the interest of full disclosure, this article is a direct result of watching several interactions between customers and the newly appointed “Store Leader” of the range I have been shooting at for the last 3 years, about a year and a half of that I also instructed their “advanced” classes.
Repeated offers of lessons from the instructors on staff being turned down made it clear he had no interest in educating himself or anyone else. After less than 90 days of giving terrible advice to customers, the Asshole walked out like a high school kid quitting his job at Arby’s, leaving behind roughly a dozen of his hires who don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.
The store is now in the hands of someone who is somewhat smarter and is plagued with a minor case of Dunning-Kruger, which is an improvement I guess.