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Reaching out.

No responsible businessman exists in a vacuum. Why does the FFL dealer still survive against a generation of mall monsters who buy guns and ammo in such carload lots they can retail below the small dealer's wholesale? Because the customer has learned that the gunshop, unlike the mall monster, cares about him or her as an individual.

Too often, though, the retailer sits back and waits for the comparison shopper to try him instead of Monster Mart, instead of reaching out and letting the prospective customer know just which members of the retail firearms community care and which don't. Let's talk about that.

Reach out to cops. Support and donate to the local PBA or FOP or police union. Support the county law enforcement and chiefs of police associations. Each qualification period, donate a trophy or a gift certificate for the best shot, and the most improved shot, on the department.

Not all police purchases are made through governmental bid. When a single new officer needs to be equipped, the police commander often has the option of choosing or recommending a source without bidding procedure. Will he go to the faceless corporation behind the bid list, or the local firearms professional who has taken a personal interest in his men's training and survival?

Similarly, while we all know the stories of the cops who only carry guns because they have to and let them turn green in their holsters, your police department is also a substantial source of individual purchases. Most cops buy their own off-duty guns and leather, their own backup equipment. Most cops also make a point of having a gun at home for their wife when they're off at work. None of those individual purchases go out to bid. Cops are acutely conscious of who appreciates them and who doesn't, and they show it whenever they make a purchase. Like a Detroit auto worker who insists on buying American, cops make a point of buying from merchants who Support Their Local Police.

Reach out to women's groups. It's no secret that independent women are perhaps the single fastest-growing segment of an otherwise stagnant handgun sales market. A significant number of these women, perhaps a majority, have a stereotype of the gun culture as a bunch of macho rednecks who have no understanding of women's issues and concerns.

Prove them wrong. Contact Nancy Bittle of AWARE (Armed Women Against Rape and Exploitation) at PO Box 255, Maynard, MA 01754, for the name of the AWARE affiliate nearest you. Make your advice available to the group, and donate to their fundraisers. AWARE women are, I assure you, very loyal to those who sincerely share their concerns. They'll take their dollars to the dealer who can show them he understands things like the trigger reach dimension in fitting a gun to a woman's hand, or helping select a holster that adapts to female anatomy and wardrobe, instead of the testosterone rhetoric they probably heard at the last gunshop they visited.

Reach out to parent's groups. Offer your advice and services to the local Parent Teachers Association. When PTA types hear about guns, the speaker is usually a card carrying Handgun Control Incorporated type. In a world where every second home contains a firearm, gun safety is a real concern for parents. Isn't it time they heard about it from someone who knows what they're talking about and can offer real firearms safety solutions, instead of miasmic BS about why they have to ban guns to keep their rug rats safe?

You'll do legitimate service giving a PTA talk and demonstrating the many gunlocks in your shop, the kind advertised in this journal. You also present a voice of firearms responsibility to a group that includes the following classes of people:

-- Hard Core Anti-Gunners. You'll never change their minds, but if nothing else you'll have the satisfaction of watching them squirm as what is normally their captive audience now hears the truth, from you.

-- Pro Gun Parents. They appreciate your message. They'll back up their appreciation with their gun-buying dollars.

-- Uncommitted Gun Owning Parents. They're among 50% of gun-owning Americans who have firearms at home. You've shown them a better way to keep their weapons and ammo secure. Where do you think they'll go to buy that better technology?

-- Uncommitted Non-Gun Owning Parents. Even if they don't have a gun at home, their friends and relatives do. A gun lock goes on the Christmas list for that person. Now, where's the logical place to buy it? Perhaps, too, they're non-gun owners because they didn't know until your talk tonight that gun ownership and child safety could be totally compatible. If they choose to become One of Us, guess whose shop they're likely to do it in?

Reach out to committed gun owners. Sure, they come to you already. You and every other gun dealer within a hundred miles. They care about their Second Amendment Rights. They're also acutely conscious of who else does.

Donate to your grassroots gun rights activist organizations: GO-NH in New Hampshire, Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts, Indiana Sportsmen's Alliance, etc. These heavy purchasers are fed up with gun owners and dealers who take advantage of the rights they fight for, but never get up off their own dead backsides to join that fight. When you donated the gun for their fund-raising raffle-when you gave them unlimited use of your photocopier for political handbills--it's you they remember when it's time for the next substantial purchase.

Being in business is more th inventorying product and counting money. It's being committed to the social responsibilities of your field, and to the diverse customers themselves. That is perhaps nowhere truer than in the Shooting Industry.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:support to the handgun sales market
Author:Ayoob, Massad
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Mar 1, 1991
Words:955
Previous Article:Turkey call clutter.
Next Article:1991 S.H.O.T. Show review.
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