Fellow gun nuts: We hear from each other, from gun writers, and from manufacturers, but gun dealers give us a perspective that we don’t get elsewhere. Scott Moss, who is the third generation of that family (all of whom have taken lots of money from me) to sell firearms, has agreed to come on the blog from time to time and tell us what’s on his mind, good or bad, about the guns he handles. If you’re interested in buying from him or selling to him on consignment, you can call Forest & Field in Norwalk, Conn. at 203-847-4008.—Dave Petzal
A few years ago, I decided to put a paintball department in my store. The reasoning was simple. Paintball was a natural way for kids to develop an affinity for more grown-up guns, plus a means to expand my market. After all, I thought, there’s even a paintball section at the SHOT Show, so I must be on to something, right?
Wrong! My logic was flawed, and here’s why. Most of my clients were (notice the past tense) middle-school-aged kids who came to the store with their parents. Too many of these kids were spoiled little miscreants whose parents were both oblivious to their bad manners and overtly unhappy in the presence of real guns. So much for the transition.
I began to wonder about the irony of these Million Mom Marchers whose children were becoming desensitized to the dangers of real guns as they pelted other kids with .68-caliber paintballs that traveled at 275 feet per second. Maybe paintball wasn’t such a good introduction after all.
Then there were the guns. Many paintball guns are very expensive, with some running close to $2,000. Most of them are also very finicky and require professional servicing. So what does little Johnny do as soon as he gets a new paintball gun for his birthday? He tinkers with it. It breaks. Mom is ticked off and has to take time out from her busy schedule to return the “defective” paintball gun. We can’t repair it, since that would invalidate the warranty, so it has to go back to the manufacturer. Johnny is whining. Mom is even more ticked off. I’m wishing parents were allowed to eat their young. We get a chargeback from her credit card company.
Meanwhile, the largest distributor sells at retail on the Internet at below my cost and I’m getting my brains beat in. The hype changes daily and yesterday’s “gottahaveit” gun is today’s old news. And the high school kid I hired to relate to the kids that come in? He got off with probation as a youthful offender after ripping me off and selling the stuff on his own at school.
Finally, perhaps the best argument for not having paintball in a gun store is that the gun customers don’t like it, or the clientele, either. Like my dad always told me, "Stick with what you know."