I dropped my car off this morning at my mechanic’s, as the clutch appeared to be on its last legs. Being a beautiful morning in the mid-40s, I decided to walk home, and soak in some of the small-town downtown ambiance along the way. The sleepy antique stores were not seeing much business, and I nodded to the painting crew who was outlining the wooden window frames of the bakery in brilliant blue paint as I passed by.
Most of the downtown shops, in fact, weren’t doing much business except the two gun stores. I’d been in one several days ago to pick a .22LR for an article I’d be writing for Shooting Illustrated, and decided to stop in at the other to see what the current political environment had left behind.
There were no less than six clerks working feverishly with the dozen or so customers, so I simply stepped to the side and walked the aisles. The cases of ammunition that typically lined the far wall were picked to pieces. There was a 100-round case of .50 BMG, and cases of European shotshells suitable for small game. The .223 Remington, 5.56 NATO, 7.62×39, 7.62 NATO, and 7.62x54R had sold out long ago, along with the bulk 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP.
A few pump shotguns remained along with a smattering of deer rifles, single-shots, and longer double-barreled shotguns suitable only for trap or skeet. Even the semi-automatic .22LR rifles like Ruger 10/22s were gone, along with all but one BX-25 magazine.
The customers in the shop were picking through what remained; lever-action rifles, oddball shotguns, and the smattering of name-brand centerfire pistols. One man was attempting to trade in an antique double-barrel shotgun for something more current.
I did speak to one harried clerk, briefly.
They didn’t know when they’d be getting anything back in stock, from magazines to rifles to pistols. Manufacturers were running full-bore, but couldn’t come close to keeping up with market demand. It wasn’t just the AR-15s, the AK-pattern rifles, the M1As, and the FALs that were sold out. It really hit me when I realized that the World War-era M1 Garands , M1 carbines, and Enfield .303s were gone, along with every last shell. Ubiquitous Mosin-Nagants—of which every gun store always seems to have 10-20—were gone. So was their ammo. Only a dust free space marked their passing. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Every weapon of military utility designed within the past 100+ years was gone. This isn’t a society stocking up on certain guns because they fear they may be banned. This is a society preparing for war.
I wonder if this is what it felt like during the time of the Powder Alarm, and fear politicians both sides of the aisle are no more speaking the same language as most Americans as Gage was unable to think like the Colonials. There is an earnestness now on both sides, and a great chance for unintended consequences.