On Saturday night (Sunday morning), at the NRA Convention, I stayed up until 3:00 AM socializing and blogging. I arrived at the Press Room a few minutes before 9:00 the next morning and found I was the first one there for the meeting with Paul Helinkski of Guns America. Wimps. Even the NRA staff hadn’t arrived to unlock the door early after being late the day before. If it hadn’t been for the wheelbarrow full of cash I received on arrival I would have been a little bit annoyed with the NRA for dropping the ball in this regard two days in a row.
About 9:00 other bloggers and press people showed up to wait. Bitter had no explanation:
More people showed up–and waited:
Then Helinkski showed up and waited with the rest of us:
Finally, about 15 or 20 minutes late, the NRA staff (names withheld to protect the guilty) showed up, let us in, and we all sat down to listen to Helinkski:
He gave us his background and while interesting from a technical aspect most of my readers aren’t going to care about that. What probably is interesting is what he had to say about the future of gun sales on the Internet.
Helinkski is of the opinion that gun are a very unique product that cannot be sold like other products. The required FFL for shipment and NICS checks for most sales is the reason. That “speed bump” could be smoothed out by “dealers” that do not stock firearms but simply do the transfers and charge $20 or $30. But, according to Helinkski, this would be the very bad for gun owners. Sure we could get guns a few dollars cheaper if we did our purchases that way but having the gun store down the street on the corner is more important that those few dollars. The public visibility is important and having the customer service locally available is important.
So what is the future of Internet gun sales? Helinkski has an innovative web product that addresses that. Check out GunsAmerica.com. His website allows dealers to post their inventory on the web and the customers to comparison shop. You can search for guns within X miles of your zip code and then if the dealer makes a sale because you found what you liked on the website Helinkski makes a flat fee on the deal. You still have to visit the dealer and purchase the gun face-to-face but what Guns America has done is make the comparison shopping much easier.