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"The lessons from Los Angeles - echoes in the gunshops." (Rodney King trial-related riots) (Lethal Force) (Column)

Prudent Choices For Cautious Business Owners

From April 29 to May 2, 1992, the city of Los Angeles erupted in violent riot to protest the verdict handed down by a jury acquitting four police officers of using excessive force in the arrest of an African-American motorist after a high-speed chase through a residential neighborhood. Those citizens of South Central Los Angeles who ventured out to arm themselves during the first few hours of the riot were surprised by a 15-day waiting period. Those who waited just a few hours longer were greeted by locked gunshop doors and a ban on all sales of guns and ammunition. They were helpless.

Since that weekend sales of defensive guns in Los Angeles and Southern California have increased by as much as 60 percent, and firearms sales all around the country are on the rise. Are you ready to sell these new customers the guns they need to defend themselves in times of chaos? Los Angeles surely won't be the last. Massad Ayoob looks closer.

The words sound almost ghoulish, but the fact is some good came of the tragedy that followed the acquittal of the LAPD officers in the Rodney King beating case: A generation of Americans finally came face to face with the reality that they could very easily find themselves alone in a sea of human violence with no expectation of police assistance.

The results of this have been clearly felt by the retail firearms industry.

The intimations of mortality and helplessness that the riots engendered are not going to ebb away overnight, like a passing phase. For residents of cities that became violent -- L.A., Detroit, Oakland, Miami -- the stories will be told and retold. There has been an almost collective realization that, sporting purpose or not, there are good reasons to own a gun. After the sales ban was lifted, many people in California began to exercise their Second Amendment rights -- battered though they were -- and ventured out to buy their first firearm.

Even those anti-gun advocates who allotted themselves a cooling off period before making the momentous purchase realized that, yes, the rational decision is still to be armed.

What Are They Looking For?

Some new customers will suddenly find a use for those terrible "assault rifles." Some will be prepared to pay current market prices and some will not; remember, those members of the community who were brainwashed by the anti-gunners still believe that you can buy an army rifle by mail for $37.50.

Don't forget, cost is a big factor. A lot of the people who perceive themselves as the most threatened are those who live in the inner cities, on the edge of the violence or even in its very center. The vast majority of these people are trapped there by the same poverty that makes their purchase of a .223 Colt Sporter out of the question.

For these customers, consider laying in a stock of SKS rifles. In many ways a better gun than the AK-47 semi-auto, and certainly more accurate, the SKS is one of today's great bargains for both dealer and customer in a low-priced rifle.

Ruger's Mini-14 would be another strong mover with those who picture themselves on the roof of their store or apartment building holding back waves of rioters, as the now-famous Korean merchants did in Los Angeles.

Along with these rifles, lay in a stock of Federal Premium Varmint P223V (formerly called the "Blitz" line) 40-grain ammo in .223 Remington. It is the safest of the urban anti-personnel loads: Evan Marshal, the leading authority on "street performance" of combat ammo, has found that the Federal Premium 40-grain P223V is not only the most devastating stopper in its caliber, but that it is the one .223 round that is not likely to exit a human body and endanger bystanders.

The availability of such ammo may make or break the sale to a socially-conscious, first-time gun buyer.

Small Caliber Protection

Do not neglect the humble .22 rimfire rifle. Guns like the takedown Feather with its mean-looking "assault rifle appearance" are affordable to your customers and easier than anything else for an amateur to shoot straight.

Ditto the Ruger 10/22, for which you'll want to keep on hand a supply of extended magazines. The rifle itself is extremely reliable, but that's not true of many of the aftermarket magazines produced for it. I would strongly suggest the Butler Creek brand. If a bad magazine jams the nervous new shooter's gun on the range, do you think he'll ever come back to your shop when he wants to add to his protective collection?

Consider too the folding stocks like the Choate, MWG, and Ram-Line. They give an intimidating "assault rifle look" that will appeal to the buyer who is wary of civil disturbance. They also allow the gun to be carried in an attache-type case for those who must travel in troubled times and are in a community where carry of pistols in forbidden. Carried with the ammo in magazines separate from the gun, such transport is legal in many states.

Scatterguns For Security

Shotguns also sell out quickly during times of collective fear of civil upheaval. Your bargain-prices pumps -- Mossberg, Maverick, Winchester's Defender, and the Remington 870 -- will be in demand. Stock some in 20-gauge as well as 12; the recoil will be more controllable for any new shooter, particularly women and smaller-framed men.

A Boost For Rifles

Are "thutty-thutty deer rifles" like the Winchester 94 and the Marlin 336 moving slowly for you lately? Be advised that Jeff Cooper considers them outstanding self-defense and police rifles, and rates them higher for the purpose than the AK-47 semiautomatic. Go through your files of Colonel Cooper's writings, bring appropriate page to a copy machine enlargement, and stick it on a wall next to a display of attractively priced new and used lever-action .30/30s, .32 Specials, and the like. Neither you nor your customer will be ill served by this sales strategy. Col. Cooper has dubbed the 16-inch barrel Trapper version of the Winchester .30/30 the "Brooklyn Special." 'Nuff said.

Consider also your telescopic-sighted hunting rifles in varmint through big-game calibers, both new and used. The anti-gunners will soon be calling for a ban of these "sniper rifles" just as they've tried to stamp out the guns they dubbed (with equal falsity) "gang guns," "assault rifles," and "assault pistols."

Turn their tactics against them. Under assault, a business owner needs an assault rifle. If they are being sniped at, they need a counter-sniper rifle. Picture yourself on the rooftop of your shop facing an angry mob of 100. They consist of 98 unarmed thieves -- scum, to be sure, but more threatening to your property than your life and not quite yet targets of opportunity -- and two armed looters taking potshots at you and your employees. Would a scoped bolt-action gun be the most realistic way to remove this threat? You bet, and a store owner given reason to consider that fact might well add such a rifle to the list of protective equipment he has come to your shop to purchase.

When given realistic options, these former anti-gunners are likely to become customers. The only way for good things to come out of a bad situation is if the lessons offered are taken to heart.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Publishers' Development Corporation
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Ayoob, Massad
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:Column
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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