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Lethal force: the training factor.

You're familiar with the scenario. Joe or Sally Sixpack walk into an FFL holder's place of business and purchase their first handgun. Money and firearm are exchanged. Dealer shows how to load or unload, in one classic case loading the gun for the lady and giving it to her that way. Two or three months up the road, there is an accidental discharge tragedy at the Sixpack household. Joe and Sally sue the dealer for negligence in not showing them how to properly handle the instrument.

If recent civil liability history is any guide, Joe and Sally are likely to collect big.

Or, consider this scenario: a troubled person in his early twenties walks up to the handgun counter. He's obviously hesitant about the purchase, but the salesman does a salesmanlike job and convinces the customer he wants to buy, today. The customer remarks wryly that it's today or never, because he won't be around much longer. The clerk ignores these comments as he fills out the 4473. That night, the customer puts one round in the gun, places it in his mouth, and pulls the trigger. The family of the deceased sues the gunshop for negligence in selling a firearm and ammunition to an obviously suicidal person.

Many gun dealers already have a disclaimer form printed up, to be filled out and signed by the purchaser of a firearm. It indicates that the person was shown proper and safe handling of the firearm by the dealer or his representatives. Good move. If you don't have a disclaimer like that now, you should.

Go further. Make sure you can document in court that you made a good faith effort to make sure any gun purchaser was trained in firearms safety. Hell, go a step beyond: be able to show that you had a higher standard of care than the government, in that you made readily available safety training beyond that required by law.

This can prevent great volumes of human suffering. It can insulate you strongly against a wrongful civil court action. It can also establish you as the kind of conscientious businessman that your community likes to do business with.

Consider you or one or more of your staff becoming certified through the NRA to teach Hunter Safety and especially Home Firearms Responsibility. Then, offer these courses locally, at the most affordable possible rate. Reach out to Scout leaders, your local game and fish department, and all the gun clubs in the area; the State Rifle and Pistol Association, your local grassroots arm of the NRA, has a list you can use for contacts.

Invite reporters, especially outdoor sports columnists, to attend the safety lectures. They'll transmit through the media your lessons of caution. This helps the message reach more people who need it. It also helps establish your shop as a beacon of responsible firearms safety training. If one of those readers is a nervous citizen about to commit to their first-ever gun purchase, where are they likely to go? To the discount house advertising loss-leader hunting ammo, or to the gunshop the newspaper emphasizes the very thing they're mos concerned about, responsible safety?

Training benefits individual and public safety, and in many ways gives direct rewards to the gun dealer so involved. The more training the consumer has, the more he or she wants to utilize their training. This is the person who buys more ammo, purchases handloading equipment and components, and upgrades to a better firearm. The snapshot photographer who takes a photography class will quickly set aside their Instamatic[R] in favor of a higher ticket, higher quality 35mm single lens reflex. The gun owner who graduates to shooter via interest sparked in the Home Firearms Responsibility Course sponsored by your store is no longer satisfied with a $75 Raven; it's time for a name brand gun and all the accessories that go with it. This is why camera stores sponsor photography clinics, and why from just the pure business sense, gun stores should sponsor firearms training. A classic example is Continental Sportsmen in Seattle, whose outstanding business success is partly good retailing acumen and partly having made their shop a regional training and competition center.

Unlike your counterpart at the camera store, however, you're doing something more than encouraging interest in the products you sell. You're performing a life-saving community service when you become the local source of firearms safety training.

Once you've gotten comfortable teaching firearms safety, you've in effect "got your act together" sufficiently to "take it on the road." Contact the local Kiwanis, Lions, or Rotary Club. These service organizations constantly seek new and interesting speakers for their weekly meetings. Why not a talk by you or one of your staff members on firearms safety? These service organizations exist in part to build business among members and friends, and you and your operation now tap into that ... but, more important, you're spreading the firearms safety gospel and instead of preaching to the converted, you now have the chance to get the message across to a large number of people who might not have otherwise heard it.

From there, it's a short step to letting the local TV and radio talk show hosts know that you're available. The message gets across all it costs you is a little of your time and it helps establish you and your shop as the voice of reassuring firearms responsibility to a vast number of potential customers in your community.

Sometime in your life or your career, someone doubtless told you, "The secret to success is doing the very best job you possibly can. If you do that, financial rewards will follow." That is generally true. The firearms professional who works actively to upgrade both his customers' and his community's awareness of firearms responsibility and safety will be rewarded, not only with an increase in business, but with the knowledge that he has prevented human tragedy.
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Title Annotation:sponsorhip of firearms training by gun stores as part of in-store marketing and sales promotion
Author:Ayoob, Massad
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Feb 1, 1991
Previous Article:Speaking with Alan Mossberg.
Next Article:Realistic rags.

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