A couple of days ago I stood in line for little over an hour at a national sporting goods outfitter/retailer along with 30 other people (no lie, 30, because I counted them all in front of me) as some of us waited to purchase a firearm while others waited to pick one up. As the line slowly snaked to the counter, with more people adding to the line behind me, I began to look at demographics of the people waiting — predominantly white with about 25% hispanic, predominantly male — I was one of three women, but the other two weren’t buyers, more like the girlfriend/wife — assuming US citizens, all age groups from mid-20’s to 70’s, middle-class/blue collar, and suburban to the outlying collar counties.
While most people habitually talk about anything but politics and religion when they’re in groups, whoa! Not this time. They were a chatty bunch with time on their hands. I’ll share with you some snippets of conversation overheard in the gun line:
“Ya know, the guy at the counter told me that this store usually sells about 3000 guns a month. Last month, they sold over 7500.”
“This is nothing. I got here at noon, and the line was all the way back to the counter by the wall.”
“I’m here because of Obama.”
“I used to work for an ecology company; we used to clean the pond over at Washington Park there in Chicago. Our equipment always used to get stuck from all the dead bodies the gang bangers through in. That’s Chicago for you.”
“Did you know that the helos were ready and waiting to take off and she called ’em back.” “Yeah, my brother-in-law is ex-military. You can’t even mention Benghazi in front of him. You mention that guy we traded the Talibanis for, and you swear his hair’s gonna catch on fire.”
“Yeah, I just finished their concealed carry …. like 25 people in the class.” “Dude, they’re jammed everywhere.” “Here in Illinois, the laws stink. Every place people are gettin’ shot, are places you can’t carry, that’s why they’re gettin’ shot.” “If there’s a sign on the door that says no guns, I don’t go in; I’ll take my business elsewhere.” “You just never know anymore. Shopping malls, anywhere, you’re just not safe anymore.”
“After what happened in California, my wife told me to get another gun.”
“It’s gonna get worse. I’m waiting for Obama’s gun grab.” “Just let ’em try, I’ll be waiting for ’em.” “Damn, right!” “Yep. Me, too.”
“Hey, you see the sale on ammo?” “Yeah, picked up 10 boxes. You gotta keep on training. If I gotta shoot somebody someday, I wanna be sure they’re down.”
And that’s just the conversations I overheard. They’re actually quite mild compared to what I hear at the gun range. There, “A**hole”, is used interchangeably with “Obama,” and witch with a “b” replaces Hillary.
So what was I picking up about the mood of this country from some of these comments and conversations. Here in blue state Illinois that just elected its first Republican governor in 12 years, if the northwest suburbs of Chicago are a microcosm of the larger citizenry of the US, there’s an obvious, apparent sense of anxiety, uncertainty, fear for self and family, anger, and just downright fed up.
I’ve watched people’s expressions and listened to voice tone while at the counter in the store. At this particular store where I shop, it’s nothing for the gun counter to be four-people deep, as people clutch onto their tickets waiting for their turn. For some people, this is their first firearm purchase, and you see their look of surprise when the sales associate tells them they need their FOID card first before they can buy a gun or even look at one out of the case. For others purchasing, one of the principal must haves is a high capacity magazine. “Concealed carry” is one of the most oft-heard phrases you hear while waiting.
So where does the “The Donald” fit into all of this. He’s certainly tapped into the mood of the people I stood in line with. He’s talking about what used to be the proverbial elephants in the room, immigration and radical Islam, and, that people feel they don’t recognize the America they grew up in anymore. Add in Obamacare havoc, the sluggish economy, the number of people out of the labor force, Obama’s blatant disregard for our nation’s laws, and you have a cauldron waiting to boil over.
Whether these same people will pull the lever for Trump next November, if he wins the Republican nomination, has yet to be seen. However, this is not the first time that I’ve heard people voice their willingness to fight if it comes to that to protect their families and their Second Amendment rights. Whether it’s two parts bluster/bravado and one part reality, that reality can become very real, very fast with far-reaching consequences.
We’re living in uncharted territory; we’re living in dangerous times, when so many Americans believe that their government won’t do what is necessary to protect them. So, history repeats itself. As the colonists took up arms three centuries ago, we’re doing the same today. Three hundred million guns and counting.