A routine shopping mission takes a bizarre twist…. 

Saturday, October 22

Chi and I completely inadvertently wandered into a gun shop today.  We were on a routine grocery shopping mission to Pasadena that included an unusual stop.  We recently bought a cat tree from a friend who was moving, only to discover that it was full of fleas, who gladly took up residence on the Panache Cats, so we needed to pick up some flea killer, and decided to try our luck at PetCo, which was close to the Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods where we usually do our weekend shopping.  Since I was low on money, we weren’t going all the way to the cat place in East Pas we usually shop at to buy cat food and litter this time.

Anyway, after parking our truck and walking past what looked for all the world like a camping/sporting goods store, Chi asked me if they might have some sort of water purifying device that doesn’t require electricity.  (For the benefit of readers who haven’t read my previous posts, Chi’s been on a disaster rampage ever since the catastrophic events that took place in Japan on March 11, 2011.)  We walked in and were confronted by a massive assortment of guns of every manner and kind on the right, and fishing poles on the left.

We stopped a few feet from the entry and stood awkwardly for a moment, taking in the scene before us.  Chi asked me, “Are those real?!”  Without hesitation I replied, “Yes”.  As if moved by some invisible compulsion not of our own volition, we were drawn closer to the counter that was swarming with people, and our eyes came to rest on the contents of the aisle to our right.  There were a bunch of rifles in boxes on the bottom shelf on which were printed some sort of bizarre script to the effect of getting kids started with fun with guns.  Not an exact quote, but I distinctly recall feeling really weirded out by the use of “kids”, “guns” and “fun” all in the same sentence.  Chi said, “Those can’t be real.  They wouldn’t just leave those things out lying around like that, would they?”  I was too perplexed by the aforementioned to answer.

My gaze then fixed on an object displayed at eye level that looked for all the world like a component of an IED, and upon closer examination, the little box it was packed in showed a clear bullet-shaped object full of little metallic bits and text that said something like “for greater armour-piercing power”.  W.T.F.????!!!!!!  Why in the hell would one need armour-piercing power when hunting, or for that matter, anywhere outside of a bona fide war zone?  Do burglers and gang bangers now wear armour?!  We were both struggling hard to mentally process all this, and Chi asked me if the gun I wanted was in the display case, and how much it costs.  I was overwhelmed by the selection in the case and a little sticker-shocked as I tried to make some sort of sense of what was printed on the tags attached to each gun in the case that I could barely make out from where we were standing.

Ok, let me explain this.  I’ve never had any particular desire to personally own a gun, even though I know how to use one, and except for wanting to kill my brother when I was about 12 years old (our relationship has improved dramatically since then!), have never had any particular desire to harm anybody.  However, given the increasing economic upheaval and the fact that we do live in a working class multi-ethnic ghetto (where we are conspicuous minorities) in close proximity to a major drug gang corridor, in downtown L.A. with its huge concentration of increasingly desperate homeless people, plus the recent extreme seismic activity around the Pacific Basin, I have been thinking it might not be a bad idea to step up our self defense capacity, should things get out of hand.

For the record, I have not even begun to initiate the process of researching, much less actually procuring a firearm (God forbid, my mom would absolutely have a heart attack if she read this, so thank Buddha or whoever the hell is up there that she’s not into social media and doesn’t even have a computer at home, for that matter), and in fact, one reason I’m hesitant to do so is because I’m concerned that I’ll end up on yet another DHS list should I leave any trace of having done so.  Secondly, for me to actually take possession of a firearm without first taking a refresher course in gun safety and visiting the shooting range several times (they apparently have one in downtown L.A.) to become able to shoot deliberately and accurately when under pressure would just be stupid and dangerous.

Also, in direct conflict with this gun thing is that I am extremely resistant to taking on the karma of possessing a lethal weapon (other than my own hands and my array of kitchen knives and garden tools).  As much as I am conditioned in the mentality of being prepared and self sufficient in providing for and defending myself, I refuse to buy into the current terrified, impoverished zeitgeist.

We gazed uncomprehendingly at the gun counter that was absolutely teeming with dozens of people and the guy behind it periodically shouting out numbers from the turn-o-matic as an Asian-looking kid who couldn’t be much older than a teenager was assessing a hand gun, taking aim with a little too menacing of a look on his face, cocking it, etc.  I felt Chi shudder as he said, “気持ち悪い“ (approx. translation: “this is very seriously creepy!”) while I wondered if we were witnessing the advent of the next Seung-Hui Cho.  I never answered Chi’s question about my dream gun since we were both too disturbed by the sheer number of people swarming around the gun counter, and we rerouted our path toward the fishing poles on the other side, made our way to the checkout counter to inquire whether they had the thing Chi was looking for, to which the reply was negative, and were redirected to a Big 5 sporting goods store some distance away, so we left and went to PetCo to look for flea killer instead.

Were that many people that intent on buying guns on a perfectly lovely Saturday afternoon, and right in the middle of Pasadena, of all places?!!  And in a perfectly innocuous suburban shopping center anchored by a PetCo?  There was even a freaking baby store right next to the gun shop, a Gymboree or something like that!!  It bears repeating, W.T.F.????!!!!!!  I thought this sort of thing was more on a par with going into a sex toy porno shop or some such thing, which are typically in more discreet locations.  This is not adding up.  Is it me??

For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’ll be getting a gun anytime soon, as I can right off the top of my head probably think of at least five thousand things I would rather spend my hard-earned money on, and want more, and would get a hell of a lot more use out of.  However, should I change my mind, at least now I know where to go to get one….