Today I decided to acquire my first pistol in California, the Capitol of “NO” in America. I’d taken the courses at the excellent Downrange in Chico and a fine set of courses they are. I’d reviewed the current state of the proctological process of buying a pistol in California. Because of this I budgeted about 3 hours at Downrange to select the pistol and go through the process.
1. Get the California “RealID.” This is your standard California Driver’s License but, I guess, “Mo’ Realer.” To obtain this permission slip you have to show up at the DMV with a current valid driver’s license ID plus a passport… plus –if you got it — a birth certificate… plus something else official with an address on it identical to the address on your driver’s license. It doesn’t matter if you have just renewed your driver’s license because, I guess, it just isn’t real enough. Then you are thumb printed and photographed. Wait a week or two and here it comes in the mail. It looks just like your previous UnRealID except it has a little golden bear in the upper right corner.
2. Haul thy ass with RealID off to Downrange and make your selection. But you also need a second bit of ID to make the RealID more real than a RealID. At this point, your RealID has become a SurRealID. Then you must take a firearms proficiency and knowledge of gun law test and pass.
3. Next it is a deluge of different paperwork: dating, signing, initialing, and swearing that you are not a crazed felonious whack job itching to spread mayhem. (For that sort of thing you just wander around parts of Sacramento and buy one — cash on the barrelhead, take the grease-stained paper bag, and adios muchacho. And Si it has a 14 round magazine instead of the 10 rounds the Rulers of California have decided is the holy bullet number.)
4. Following the assemblage of enough paperwork to make a modest pinata comes the autofornication festival of various signatures and thence electronic submissions to some sort of background check apparatus somewhere inside the vast digital realm of MatrixCalifornia where the Gods of Permissions may deign to review your craven and humbled plea to please, please, please let me have the means to defend myself.
Then it is time to pay. Up to this point, the Jerry-Get-Your-Gun process has been proctological but smooth… an advantage in things proctological. Then — just as my card was about to be submitted for permission to buy from the Gods of American Express — Comcast takes the internet down for all of North Chico and, poof!… hangfire. I am in limbo until such time as the Gods of Comcast decide to put the internet back up. Until then everything I am doing at Downrange along with everything else at Downrange and at the Dutch Brother’s coffee junkies’ shop next door comes to a screeching halt.
When this happens I notice that most of the staff at Downrange along with the customers in the place check their phones for connectivity. I do and see there are still bars. Behind me a man looks at his phone and says to the woman beside him, “If I ever see the Internet and the phones down at the same time I’m going home to load more magazines.” What can I say? People seem edgy these days. Can’t imagine why.
Godot the Internet I glance down at my copy of the document sent to the Permissions Gods in Sacramento and DC. The man selling me the pistol puts his finger on a number in a box in the top upper left corner. That number is 2,657. It is 12:30 PM on a Tuesday.
“That’s the number of pistols sold and sent for background checks so far today in California.”
“Two thousand six hundred and fifty-seven guns sold today in California? Really?”
“It’ll be at least 5,000 by midnight tonight.”
“Really. We’ve been seeing between 5,000 and 6,000 a day since January. In California. Seven days a week.”
“Whoa. People in California are getting strapped.”
“We prefer to think of them as new hobbyists.”