Speaking without Thinking – a Dangerous Practice

I was in a gun shop the other day buying a new holster. Standing a few feet to the side of me was a clean cut looking guy with some paperwork in his hand. I figured him for a LEO.

The customer asked the gunshop employee at the counter if they had sold a gun to a person. I was talking to the other employee, so I didn’t pay attention if a receipt was exchanged or a register examined. So far, it sounded fairly routine as if he was a person in authority checking out a gun sale.

I was about to find out, in no uncertain terms, why he was there. The next thing I heard him ask was; “Did you show her how to use the gun?” The gunshop clerk answered after about two seconds; “yeah, we showed her how to rack it”.

The guy looked at the clerk in total silence for about four seconds and replied; “it was a revolver”. I could tell by the look on the clerk’s face that he was dumbfounded and completely lost for words. He just stared at the man.

The man then said; “she shot herself with that gun. We found the body yesterday”. Another employee, probably a manager or the owner, appeared from behind the counter and advised the man that they should speak in private in another room. They then left together.

You may be about to send a comment saying that there was no obligation on that gunshop to make sure the person buying the gun was proficient in its use, just as there is no obligation on a car salesman to make sure a person is a good driver when they come in to purchase a vehicle.

Point accepted. There was also no requirement for the person to undergo psychiatric evaluation before purchasing the weapon. The point here though, is that the situation could have been handled in a more professional manner had the clerk taken the time to treat the man in front of him as an individual and provide him with accurate information.

Had the clerk properly checked a sales receipt and went to the trouble of speaking with the employee who sold the gun to the man’s wife/sister/daughter, he would have been able to assist in a meaningful way and not have made that man feel like they were only numbers and there for the store’s bottom line.

We have probably all been guilty of speaking without really thinking at one time or another. Rather than taking a reply for granted or not even caring, it might be a good investment to spend a second or two to consider if what we are about to say, is the right thing to say.

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