We mentioned a Beverly Hills gun shop last week in an article about the continued increase in background checks and gun sales. We spoke with the proprietor of that shop, and he offered a very humanized take on a story often told with large numbers and broad strokes concepts.
Russell Stuart is the owner of Beverly Hills Guns. Stuart has appeared in several media interviews in the last few weeks, perhaps because his shop sits in one of the most exclusive zip codes in the country. Beverly Hills may seem an unlikely place for a gun shop to thrive, given the state’s zealously anti-gun policies and the perception of the city’s residents as wealthy celebrities in gated communities. Beverly Hills, like a lot of other areas, is suffering from an increase in crime. The glitz and glamor Beverly Hills make for a clickbait headline but gun stores serve a real need, and shops in seemingly unlikely places offer an opportunity to grow our community.
Stuart opened Beverly Hills Guns in the summer of 2020, when the pandemic and societal unrest presented real threats that gave people cause to take responsibility for their own safety. California is a bastion of anti-gun policies and sentiment but that’s changing, at least on an individual level. Stuart, and other gun dealers in the state, report that even some people with very strong political beliefs who had never held a gun now recognize the value of their own safety. Stuart’s gun shop may be in Beverly Hills, but his story is the same as any other shop in the country. His customers come from every socio-economic class, from the person barely getting by to the very wealthy. Gun owners, including first time gun owners, come from every race, ethnic origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and political affiliation. If nothing else, they have a common interest in protecting themselves and their families – and the protection of the Second Amendment.
Some gun owners in places like California have always kept their status and hobby to themselves, as it isn’t easy to be a gun owner in anti-gun locales. Stuart has heard stories of customers bumping into friends or neighbors in his shop or the parking lot, surprised to discover a shared but unspoken interest. Another increasingly common scenario happens at a get-together or party. Someone mentions a recent firearm purchase and other people chime in to acknowledge that they, too, are gun owners – or want to be.
This reveal is important, as responsible gun owners are our community’s best advocate. Some people may consider themselves anti-gun because that’s the message pushed by local media, their politicians, and perhaps even outspoken activist friends (or professional activists). Learning that friends, family members, or neighbors are gun owners can help them recognize that gun owners are just like them. A trusted friend could offer a comfortable introduction to firearms. This is how we grow our community.
That is especially important when soft-on-crime policies empower criminals and put people at risk. Gun ownership and carrying are common in the United States and becoming more common when elected leaders and bureaucrats fail their communities. People, including anti-gun people in anti-gun places, want and should have the options to protect themselves available.