Following the Thousand Oaks Borderline Bar shooting last week, the truth about California gun owners is coming out. USA Today interviewed John Von Colln, the owner of the only gun store in Thousand Oaks. He describes a wholly unsurprising trend: Californians are arming themselves.
Von Colln’s gun store, VC Defense, has been flooded with visitors ever since the shooting and these California customers don’t even come close to qualifying for the well-worn “gun nut” trope.
Several are small business owners who want to protect their shops. One, Brandon Simone, is a 35-year-old single dad who once swore he’d never keep a gun in his home. Now, with his teenage son skateboarding right outside the store, dad’s filling out the paperwork to get a 9mm pistol.
“No matter how hard they make it to get a gun, they’re going to get one,” Simone’s son, Ethan, chimes in. “I’m a kid and I don’t know anything, but I know that.”
Another customer, a banker wearing designer glasses and a gold Rolex, is doubling down on his previous decision to own a gun. His own son, he says, was outside the bar during the shooting, and two of his son’s friends were killed.
“I need more holsters,” says the banker, “because I am not going anywhere without my piece now.”
Mike Rowan, a self-defense instructor at the nearby Trigger Burst Training Center, has likewise seen a heavy influx of customers in the last few days.
“I get a lot of closet liberals,” Rowan says, “people who normally would never want anything to do with a firearm, and I train them and they secretly own firearms.”
“They’re just frightened,” adds the former corrections officer. “Unfortunately, these mass shootings are good for business, and I say that very solemnly.”
For many California gun owners, all this has to happen under the radar. It’s understandable that people don’t want to take the heat for breaking the gun taboo there. But anti-gun Californians would do well to realize the closeted gun owner next door (California has at least 8 million gun owners) really isn’t that different from everyone else on the block.
As USA Today’s Gus Garcia Roberts memorably put it, Californian gun owners “pull up to [the] range in Priuses and Teslas and never tell their friends they own a gun.”
If you’re an un-closeted gun owner, you may want to follow VC Defense on Facebook in support of that solitary gun store in Thousand Oaks.