A lot of folks are outraged at Walmart discontinuing the sale of ARs and now certain kinds of ammunition. I guess they feel like this monster corporation has betrayed them, and that we should boycott or punish them for not supporting the Second Amendment. Well, um, we should have never started buying our gun stuff there in the first place. We abandoned real gun stores for convenience, and to save a couple dollars. Gun stores went out of business, and here we are.
I could care less. In fact, it would not bother me if Walmart stopped selling guns and gun and hunting related accessories all together. They’ve never been a real gun/hunting store anyway. Though I’m sure there are exceptions, those behind the counter are, in most cases, not qualified to sale or even handle a gun, and I doubt any of them know the difference between a caliber and a cartridge. And based on my experience; their enthusiasm for customer care almost equals my interest in cat videos.
When I was growing up there was a local bait & tackle/gun shop about two miles from my house. On weekends—during my paper route—I’d stop there on my bike. The guy behind the counter would let me look at and fondle the guns that interested me, and he even knew a thing or two about firearms…and young boys. I could usually talk him out of some part I needed, that was just lying in the clutter on his workbench. (If you grew up near my hometown—and are older than 50—you will remember Ray’s Bait Shop. I’d rather go back there for one hour than spend a day in Cabela’s.)
We’ve seen the death of the local gun shop. With that, we’ve lost places where real and practical knowledge could be dispensed. Walmart has contributed to this near extinction; they retail firearms so cheap the local guy cannot compete. (Few realize how small profit margins are on guns.) What they fail to deliver is service—service before, during, and most importantly, after the sale. And those conducting the sale do not have the experience to get that feeling when someone is trying to buy a gun with possible bad intentions in mind. (You do realize an FFL dealer can deny a sale to anyone they think might be a danger, don’t you? Local gun shop owners take this seriously.)
And then there’s the knowledge they do not have to share. Local gun shops are operated by folks who are experienced with, and passionate about, what they do and the things they sale. That passion carries over to the customer. The absence of that passion is like a cancer to the gun and hunting industry. It’s why Walmart could care less about your firearms or hunting interests—they have none of their own. It’s also the reason some gun manufactures are struggling; they hired management types from other industries who lack our passion.
Be mad at Walmart if you like, I could care less what they sale. When I buy gun stuff I’m going to buy it from a guy who smells like Hoppe’s #9, a guy who was installing a trigger on a rifle that morning, a guy who closed his shop early yesterday to go to the range, a guy who frequently has a shop full of like-minded folks bitching about anti-gunners, a guy who knows what a pre-64 model 70 is, who Jeff Cooper was, and who actually gives a shit if I hit what I shoot at, or ever come back in his shop again.
With this help from Walmart the local gun shop can once again be real. With all the new gun owners in our ranks, they’ve never been needed more than right now!
You think Walmart is a gun store? Well, bless your heart. You’ve never been in a real gun store, have you?
— Richard Mann
In addition to a lot of other hats, Richard Mann is editor of The Hunting Wire (www.huntingwire.com)