The lesson in the hardware store

Not long ago I visited a hardware type store in Reno. My purpose was not necessarily to buy anything but to look at some options for something I have been considering.

As I ambled around the store looking at its wares, I noticed that there was a good-sized crowd of shoppers milling about. There certainly didn’t seem to be any shortage of shoppers or buyers. The store was doing a brisk business, unlike some other retailers I had seen that day.

The one thing I did notice, however, was an underlying sense of unease. Without voicing it, many of the people in the store gave the distinct impression that they didn’t think things were well. Most were there for a purpose, even if they couldn’t vocalize what it was.

You see, the hardware store I entered was a gun store. The time was not long after the naval yard shooting. The unease or fear was directed for the most part at the amorphous blob we know as government. Those who could verbalize their unease directed it more specifically at Washington, D.C.

One of those was the owner of the store. I introduced myself and surprisingly, he had read some of my past writings. Despite being busy, he then willingly engaged me in a lively conversation. One of his most surprising statements was his observation that society is starting to collapse.

When I asked what he meant, he answered, and I may not be quoting exactly here, “People talk about debt, a recession that won’t go away and how we are on track to bankrupting the country. This is all true. But they are all part of a bigger problem.”

“What problem is that?” I asked.

His answer? “Entitlement. People now expect something for nothing as their due. It has become a way of doing business, a way of life. When a culture loses its work ethic, anything and everything of everyone else’s is fair game.”

At this point another gentleman joined the conversation, adding, “You know, these tragedies are a politician’s best friend. It allows them to take the public’s eye off issues like financial woes, health care, and cutbacks in benefits.”

“The last time with the Clinton gun ban, people knew that it would be temporary. The economy was good and people didn’t really care. This time, it’s different.” He then elaborated on the reason that one manufacturer had shut down its fabrication facility. Apparently the manufacturer was unwilling to be stuck with inventory that at a stroke of a pen could become contraband.

In my view, people rushing out to purchase firearms in anticipation of gun control measures are not part of the “gun culture.” The “gun culture” has already stocked up. The “last-minute shoppers” are people who believe that one day they may need a gun and may not be able to buy one. These are the same people that clean out the grocery store before the first big winter storm hits.

As for the logistics of controlling access to firearms based on my observations in this store, I suspect that it will prove to be a futile academic exercise. Most people, when motivated, do not want to give up their inalienable right of self-protection.

The scene in the gun store, which is apparently playing out nationwide, is a clear indication that people are betting against continued social stability. This is worrisome, because the extent to which we can plan our future is directly related to the faith we can reasonably place in social stability.

There is no longer a sense that “everything will be OK.” There is uncertainty about the future and not in a hopeful way. They see their prospects as having limited upside with virtually unlimited downward risk. There is a belief that this is as good as it is going to be for a long time. It is this subsurface tension that was palpable among shoppers in the hardware store.

And who can blame them? We have unchecked spending, no budget, exploding federal deficits, countless executive orders and a badly botched Obamacare rollout. A Clinton-pardoned felon will soon be Virginia governor. Immigration “reform” seems to be on the horizon. The socialist mindset rules Washington. The GOP is in disarray.

A college-aged young lady stood near us. After listening to our small group speculating on which idiotic gun control proposals were likely to be forthcoming, she pointed to a small handgun and finally spoke up, “I’ll take that one.”

Tom Riggins’ column appears every other Friday.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment