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If You Think It’s Easy to Buy a Handgun in a Red State – Think Again

If You Think It’s Easy to Buy a Handgun in a Red State – Think Again

I’ve lived in Florida for four years now, and while I was able to carefully (and legally) bring my handguns here from storage in New Jersey, I hadn’t tried to buy a handgun here until about a month ago. The end result was an extremely painful and aggravating process which included three trips to the awful firearms department at Bass Pro Shops in Dania Beach.

Bass Pro Shops Dania Beach, Florida

To give you a little background, I am not a newbie to buying guns, gun laws and having proper firearms permits. When I first moved to Florida I lived in Naples for a few months and was able to obtain a CWL (concealed weapons license) in literally a week from the time I walked into the very friendly Naples, Florida police department, until my federal background check came back approved. Coming from New Jersey, whose gun laws are strict and arbitrary, this was another massive bonus for the “Free Florida” lifestyle. In fact, I fought a landmark case against New Jersey, in their Supreme Court to win back my 2nd Amendment rights (not to carry a firearm, NJ doesn’t allow that – just to own one). But I’ll leave that story for another day, or you can read about it in my #1 bestselling book, “Leader of the Pack.”

My carry weapon, which I bought smartly before Covid, was a Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield . A classic, American made handgun, designed for concealed carry, with a 3.1-inch barrel. I enjoyed this weapon and would practice often with it at the range. However, it’s magazine capacity of 7+1 (7 bullets in the clip and one in the chamber) was also a little wimpy for a semi-automatic gun and it would force me to carry an extra clip with me when I felt like I could be in a riskier place. And when you are wearing light clothes, the less you carry the better – especially here in hot Florida.

If You Think It’s Easy to Buy a Handgun in a Red State – Think Again

So, when I heard Smith & Wesson had a new model, the, M&P 9 Shield Plus, with it’s 13+1 capacity in the same form factor as my current gun, I knew it was time to trade up. My son, Ethan, who lives near me here in Florida, suggested I go visit Bass Bro Shops, where has recently enjoyed going for his archery and firearms purchases. One Sunday afternoon, after watching the Formula One race, we headed out for some quality father-son time at the gun store.

I brought with me my current S&W looking to trade it in, since Bass’ website said they accepted trades. When we got to the store, there was a 30-minute wait to see someone. We finally got to a salesperson who was a combination of worn-out, rude, and disinterested. After wasting 15 minutes with him, I firmly pressed for another salesperson, who was somewhat helpful in showing us a selection of handguns. In the end, Bass had an unusual Green Cerakote version of the S&W M&P 9 Plus. I knew that was my gun.

Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield Plus in Green Cerakote

The first problem was that the salesman told me their website was wrong, and this store (true for most of their stores) don’t take trade-ins. He gave some BS reason why – and after driving 40 mins, waiting 30 mins to see a salesperson and looking for another 30 mins I decided to try to sell my gun elsewhere (which I eventually did with ease at guns.com) and buy the S&W right then. After spending another 30 mins filling out what seemed like an endless stream of forms on their terminal, the salesperson said we have a problem. Your name is similar to someone on our double-verify / no-sell list so I need a manager to release this so we can send your application to the state for approval. Unfortunately, there is no manager here today. That Bass Store is huge with probably 50+ people working at any time. I was extremely pissed.

If You Think It’s Easy to Buy a Handgun in a Red State – Think Again

They had all my very personal information and I had to come back another day, which I did not know when that could be. I asked for and received a refund. I drove 40 mins home, and decided to let the upset and anger go, and simply order the gun online from their website. Bass is the only store with the green version of that gun and ordering online was easy. It said my gun would be available for pickup in a few days and I would be notified by email. There’s no shipping of handguns to your home in Florida.

Three weeks later, and after several pointless calls to their customer service which finally told me it looked like the gun was still on the way. On my 6th try I finally got someone in the gun department who said, “the gun just came in.” I asked if a manager would be in tomorrow to release me off your no-sell list, he responded, “yes, all day. ” And when I got off the phone, I miraculously got an email telling me my gun was ready to pick up.

I drove back to Bass in Dania Beach again, and the gun department was swamped. I took a number and waited 35 minutes, and finally got a salesperson. He brought out my gun (with an ugly red trigger lock on it which they don’t let you take off). We did the 30 minutes of electronic paperwork. The manager came over and double verified the information and said, “we have a problem.” Because I double-verified your info, I can’t be the one to release you from the no-sell list. And there are no other managers here to release. I asked for the store manager, but he/she remained in hiding and didn’t come out. I was extremely pissed – again.

I drove back home for 40 minutes trying not to rip the steering wheel off my car. I went online and was going to cancel the order, saying to myself, I’ll just buy the black (not green) S&W M&P 9+ locally. Unfortunately, Bass’ website said there are no refunds online.

The next day, I drove back to the store, asked to see the same manager from the day before, and after 60 minutes, 3 store personnel approving me and my electronic paperwork again I was closer to getting my gun (which was paid for 3 weeks earlier). My data was submitted to the state of Florida, and I was to wait in the store for approval. They gave me a piece of paper with a website and a code number to check my own status. After wandering around Bass for 40 minutes, my approval came in. And as a reminder, I already have approval by having a Florida concealed weapons license.

A Ruined Factory Box

I jogged back to the gun counter, waited another 10 minutes until my salesperson came free, and I was ready to get my gun – but not so fast. More actual paperwork (old school papers the store keeps with my personal information on and we must wonder what they do with), more waiting, and finally 15 minutes later, I get my gun. In a factory box that the store puts packing tape on, destroying the factory box – not good for resale and extremely amateurish.

It took 3 separate trips to the store over 3+ weeks, 10 hours total time at the store, plus 5 hours of driving to get a small carry handgun – in a state which has constitutional carry.

At least the Smith and Wesson is beautiful.

If You Think It’s Easy to Buy a Handgun in a Red State – Think Again

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