While this statement may give some of you a reason to automatically say I am a terrible person, I have been doing part time work as a gun salesman for the better part of my adult life.

I think I learned to fill out federal forms and call the FBI for a background check from the time I was about 20. So that gives me a couple of decades plus of experience selling firearms, ammunition and the related stuff.

This is generally a bad thing to say, especially in the training world or to anyone "In the know," because gun shop clerks are generally known as the lowest common denominator in the personal protection world, right after CCW instructors, both of which I am admitting that I do or have done for years.

Serious credibility problems are inherent to anyone who does that kind of work, bad advice abounds, people are sold a bunch of things that are terrible choices for them. People are subjected to gun shop experts who know very little, want to sell stuff to you and could care less about you. Pop around on the innerweb for a while and the stories abound...

However, I offer this as a counter point to the gun shop clerk being a amateurish, dumb, rude, money driven idiot who knows nothing:

While you might run across a bad employee at a gun counter, chances are the guy at the counter has run across way MORE bad customers.

Yes, I know. That might piss you off a bit.

You know what?


We are not selling cars, microwaves, computers or cell phones here. We are selling guns.

First a disclaimer: There are many reasons why someone buys guns and the related stuff that goes with them, but in the interest in making myself somewhat brief, I will focus on people who are buying guns as a piece of lifesaving equipment for personal protection.

You are not buying new kitchen countertops here, you are buying a LETHAL TOOL that if you use improperly or illegally, will make you or someone else into a leaking, decaying sack of meat that just shit itself after it's computer system shut down.

HALF of the country doesn't want you to have it and they are too chickenshit to get one for themselves.

So it would be great if a few of the gun buyers out here took this interaction a little more seriously then they seem too.

What I have come to find over the years is that there are THREE key MINDSETS of a bad gun buyer. Things that I have taken away from working at counters and gun shows, selling guns to everybody from an 18 year old farm boy to an 87 year old author and everything in between. Obviously, these mindsets are not universal, but they are seen enough for me to describe them generally.

There are annoyances I have from buyers that I can list for the next year, but these are the three BAD MINDSETS.

MINDSET 1: People focus on the "Stuff" to protect them instead of the skills.

Some people see buying a gun as the thing that will protect them. Being worried about personal protection is like any other fear that they have. Probably due to the consumerism that currently embroils the modern society we live in, people buy STUFF to shelter them from the perceived fear.

Take the Coronavirus, as an example. People were afraid, so they bought stuff to make them feel better. They bought toilet paper, sure.

But they also bought stuff that they had no idea how to use. They bought N95 masks that they wore upside down. They bought Illicit fake drugs from god knows where and then got sick from it.

Also, interestingly enough, they bought guns and ammunition.

If you know nothing about cast iron cooking, you are going to fuck up your cast iron pans and it will be a waste of money .

If you know nothing about guitars, you are going to sound awful when you first try to play and will need to take some effort to learn it.

If you know nothing about chainsaws, you could seriously hurt yourself using one wrong and lose a limb or die.

If you know nothing about guns, you could die, get seriously hurt, hurt or kill somebody else, go to prison, or lose everything you have ever worked for trying to stay out of prison.

This is not some thing you buy that will just protect you on it's own.

It is a tool that you will have to learn to use.

The best example of this I can personally relate to is when a major manufacturer was clearing out an old model and was selling them CHEAP. I mean like 250 for a brand new striker fired pistol after a mail in rebate cheap. We were selling a lot of them, they had gone out in a flyer in the paper and people of all kinds were coming to pick them up.

"Do you have this in stock?" a middle aged man said as he held the flyer in his hand, pointing to the pistol.

"Yes sir." I said as I pulled the display model out of the case, safety checked it and handed it to him.

He took it, looked it over briefly and said, "Ok, I will take one."

I went through the standard gun shop diatribe of paperwork and forms, leaving him to fill it out before I headed to the back to grab one off the stack. I then came back and conducted the background check, filled out the paperwork and took his visa.

As we were about to walk out I asked him if he needed anything else?


I pointed out the target rounds and the defensive ammo, made my recommendations and explained what the difference was. He went with the target ammo, it was the cheapest.

As we are about to walk out, he says, "So one thing before we go..."

"Yes sir?"

"Where do you put the bullets in?"

Please remember this.

The gun is not just some thing you buy that will just protect you.

You will need to get some skills, at least basic ones, in order to protect you.

MINDSET 2: People do lots of "research" that is not "experience" and then get disappointed.

I actually like when a student comes to a basic CHL class without a gun. They have no experience and have not committed to anything. A lot of times, they THINK they know what they might want, but they have no experience to guide them on this issue. So they refrain from making a purchase and try to get some experience first.

But that is the exception, not the rule.

Most people who come to basic CHL class have already purchased a gun or even worse, had someone else pick for them (see concept 3). They may have shot it a few times but at the end of the day, they still have no idea what they are doing. This often leads to the realization that they made the wrong choice.

One example that comes to mind was the 63 year old female with a lightweight .38 special revolver that came to one of my courses. I thought to myself, "Here we go with another gun shop shithead steering a little woman to a .38 snub, this is going to suck for her."

As the class went on, I found out some things. She told me that when she went to the clerk at the store, she told them that she wanted a "Light" gun, because that was the most important thing to her. She then told me that she was specifically not interested in anything semi auto because she didn't like them and was afraid that she couldn't work the slide of one. She then stated that her uncle had been a cop and had carried a "little 38" and so she figured it would be a good one to get. When I asked what the clerk had said, she replied, "Well, he tried to show me a couple of automatics but I was not having it."

By the end of the day of class, she understood how to properly load and unload a semi auto and was more then capable of doing it. When she got to the range and started touching off that "little 38" she had wanted so badly, it was belting her, the trigger was terrible and she couldn't hit shit with it. After switching her out for a mid size .380 auto that had a light slide racking force, light recoil and a trigger half as light, I was able to get her to focus on the fundamentals and get her hitting the target regularly.

She was... well... pissed.

She said to me after the course while looking at that "little 38, "Why the hell would they sell me this thing? It is awful!"

I simply replied, "Well, that is what you ASKED them for."

There is simply no substitution for experience. You would not buy a car without giving it a test drive no matter how much research you did. You need to actually try a few things out and see what works for you. At least decide on a STYLE of gun you can actually use and fits your needs. If you don't know what I mean by "Style of Gun" then you can do some more internet research. BUT TRY the style you are looking at out prior to parting with your money!

Also, you may totally love the people in your life, I love mine too, that DOES NOT mean they know what is going to work for you. Which brings me to the next concept...

MINDSET 3: People have somebody pick out a defensive gun for them, or people pick out one for someone else.

I understand that some people could really care less about this stuff. I really do. Personal protection is like fire extinguishers and insurance, you hope to never need it and it is not worth investing a bunch of effort into it.

However, when it come to fire extinguishers, insurance, or personal protection items, when you DO need it, it becomes pretty fucking important.

The most common thing that relates to this scenario is the male of the relationship trying to get his female companion a firearm. This is generally going to make the average gun shop counter man roll his eyes.

This is what we hate the most.

Stop it.

First off, the dude always walks in like they know what the fuck they are talking about, he has the clerk pull a small gun out of the case, grabs it with his finger on the trigger and points it at himself looking it over. He then hands it to his companion. She takes it, puts her finger directly on the trigger and then points it at the clerk. The dude in this situation then says, "How does that feel."

The woman often answers, "Fine." Looking dumbfounded.

Or, if they have been together long enough and she feels secure enough (usually married) she says, "How should I know?!"


This often puts the clerk in a situation that is a no win. First, remember that gun shops are in business, to make... get ready for this... MONEY. If said clerk did what he WANTS to do right at that moment (snatch the gun out of her hand, call her dude a fucking douche bag and then try to convince her to leave him immediately), he would lose a customer and maybe his job.

So this plays out all the time. You get good at trying to be humble and supportive of a woman while trying to stroke a dudes ego at the same time.

It hardly ever works out.

The second scenario is that an inexperienced individual walks in with the one "Gun guy" they happen to know. You will spot him a mile away. He does all the talking and then has the clerk pull out "HIS" gun. The gun guy then talks about all the reasons he went with this gun and try's to convince his buddy that this is the best and only choice. Sometimes, the gun guy sounds reasonable and knowledgeable and also will let the clerk pick out a few alternatives that both the gun guy and the new guy look. at and consider. This is usually a fine experience and goes pretty well.

But usually the "Gun Guy" is useless.

Worst example for me, was a "Gun Guy" who was trying to convince his friend to buy a cheap single action 22 revolver for the home protection. For me this was just a bridge to far and I spoke up. Saying that I would NEVER recommend this to anyone for that purpose.

Gun Guy: "Well he wants something that his wife can use too!"

Me looking at the new guy: "Sir, I get that, but I would never recommend this as a personal protection piece for MY wife, or my house.,"

Gun guy: "Well.. it is for me!"

As much as I wanted to call this dude an idiot and list all of the reasons he was one, I bit my tongue. Gun shop clerks can be assholes. I really hated doing the paperwork for that one.

The worst thing that you can do is let someone else be your expert on this topic and make decisions for you.

It is really lazy.

So stop it.

And if you find yourself in the second category of the person that someone is going to for advice, take them shooting, and then tell them to take a good class. That is the BEST way to not have people make bad choices on this serious as hell topic.

Or just keep blaming the gun shop clerks.

We get payed for it, ya'know.