The day of the Sutherland Springs massacre, I went to buy a gun. I got a lesson instead.

The salespeople cared enough about who would be using the weapon they were selling to not place it in the hands of someone acting a little crazy.

Nolan Finley
Detroit News Opinion
At the NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits in Houston in 2013.

On the same day of the Texas church massacre, I stopped by a local sporting goods shop intent on purchasing a new shotgun.

I’ve had my eye on the nicely built 12-gauge over/under for some time, and when I spotted an ad among my Sunday circulars offering it for an irresistible price, I headed out to the store.

The gun was in stock, and after shouldering it, my desire to purchase the weapon was confirmed. I hadn’t yet heard of the slaughter in the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church, nor, apparently, had anyone else at the gun counter.

Things were moving along the same way they always have when I’ve bought a firearm. The salesperson placed the shotgun back in the rack and locked it while he retrieved the box and paperwork.

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Then he guided me toward a computer to fill out the mandatory federal questionnaire that would determine my eligibility to make the purchase. It was a rickety, stand-up outfit, with the computer keyboard tucked partially underneath the screen, making it difficult to see what I was typing.

I went through the questions, starting with name, address, etc., and moving toward the serious business: Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Under a restraining owner for domestic abuse? Been treated for mental illness?

After the salesperson hit the send button, I noticed I had misspelled my last name. So I had to start over. And over. And over. And over.

Five times I tried to fill out the form correctly, and each time I noticed a mistake and had to start again from the beginning. Nothing makes me lose my mind quicker than technology. I was fuming. Muttering under my breath. Stomping my foot. Grimacing. And yes, cussing.

The salesperson tried to help, but, as tends to happen when I blow my top, I curtly cut him off. On the final failure, I threw up my hands and stormed away, declaring, “I don’t want the &%$@ gun this badly.”

I walked around the store until I calmed down and returned to the gun counter. With some help, I managed to get the form right, and waited for the salesperson to take my credit card and deliver the shotgun.

Instead, he came back with the store manager, who eyed me with a worried look and asked why I had pitched such a fit earlier. I tried to explain my computer frustration, but she wasn’t moved.

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“We don’t feel comfortable selling you a gun,” she informed me. “You were in such an agitated state, we just don’t want to take a chance.”

I was embarrassed, shocked, and, in truth, angry all over again. I left the store without the shotgun. On the way home, I was all tore up about this violation of my Second Amendment rights — until I heard the news out of Texas.

I realized the people at the store were right. They cared enough about who would be using the weapon they were selling to not place it in the hands of someone acting a little crazy.

Later, when it was learned that no less than the U.S. Air Force had been negligent in reporting information that could have kept the Texas killer from buying his guns, I appreciated the diligence of the salespeople.

Everyone involved in the process of moving guns into the hands of private owners should take the responsibility as seriously as they did.

Nolan Finley is a columnist for The Detroit News, where this piece first appeared