12/00 Buy A Car, Get A Gun

Buy a Car, Get a Gun
Larry Pratt

Occasionally, I do a column of short items called “Bull’s Eyes! And Misfires.” But, this time I want to devote that column to one long “Bull’s Eye!” scored by Greg “Lumpy” Lambert, owner of Advantage Auto Sales in Powell, Tennessee.

Not long ago, “Lumpy” declared one weekend day “Second Amendment Saturday.” On this day, if you bought a car, you got an 8 mm Mauser rifle at no extra cost. Any kids who showed up got free plastic squirt guns.

Well, as was predictable, all the “usual suspects,” all the anti-gun nuts, went a little ballistic, a little berserk. And among those going after “Lumpy” were some of the Big Media, national TV folks. But, “Lumpy” did a great job defending himself. He turned his critics — as they say — every which way but loose.

First up to take a shot (so to speak) at “Lumpy” was Jane Clayson, co-anchor of the CBS Early Show. But, she wasn’t a very good shot. In this interview, “Lumpy” began by giving the details of his promotion and saying he was doing all this as a “celebration of the Second Amendment.”

So, “why are you giving guns to kids?,” Clayson asks. “Well, they are toy guns,” he reminds her. Oh, right, “toy guns,” she repeats. “Lumpy” says he felt what he was doing was appropriate on “Second Amendment Saturday.” He adds that maybe, if they have a “First Amendment Saturday,” he will “give out crayons and coloring books.”

OK. But, where did he get the idea for this “odd combination” of cars and rifles? Clayson asks, unable — obviously — to even imagine that this combination is not “odd” for everybody. Well, “Lumpy” says that in his neck of the woods this is not really a radical idea because: “We have a lot of pro-gun people, a lot of hunters, a lot of sportsmen. Rifles are commodities that people purchase here…. I felt it would make a strong pro-gun political statement.”

But, says Clayson, a lot of people, like those at Handgun Control, Inc., say that what you’re doing is “the height of irresponsibility.” So, what do you say to that? Well, “Lumpy” says, “you’ve got to consider the source. Let’s face it, Handgun Control is a group that wants to take away our Second Amendment rights. Of course, I’m not going to be on their favorite list right now.”

Bang! Bull’s-Eye!

In conclusion, Clayson asks a really dumb question: “What do you think about putting guns in the hands of people who may not be able to know how to use them?” Well — still as cool as the proverbial cucumber — “Lumpy” says he thinks everyone, whether they own firearms or not, should take a firearms safety course. “All right, Lumpy,” says Clayson. “Good luck, especially in selling cars.”

Next up to try and prove “Lumpy” to be some kind of lunatic is Matt Lauer, co-anchor of NBC’s Today show. But, he, too, has more than met his match. As in the previous interview, “Lumpy” says he’s doing what he’s doing because in his area there are “a lot of really strong Second Amendment people,” a “lot of hunters.”

But, why give the guns away free? Lauer asks, adding: “Aren’t you just asking for trouble there?” Nope, says “Lumpy,” patiently explaining that: (1) The rifles are not free; you have to buy a car to get them. And (2) You actually get a voucher to take to a gun store. And then you must pass a required background check.

Lauer wonders: But, if I buy a car, and get my rifle, what’s to stop me from selling my rifle “to anyone I want to sell it to?” Well, says “Lumpy” — and I love this answer: “Actually, nothing. It is a free country. It’s your property and you have a right to sell it if you choose to.”

Yikes! A free country where consenting adults can practice capitalism! What a quaint idea!

Undaunted, Lauer plods on. He asks: “And so if the person who buys that gun from me goes out and commits a crime with it, or God forbid, takes a life with it, how are you going to feel at your auto dealership?”

Nice try. But, such an attempted guilt-trip falls flat. Says “Lumpy”: “Well, sir, I’m not responsible for the actions of other people. I would hope that if someone misused a weapon they got from me or anyone else that they would be arrested and put in jail. What we need is crime-control, not gun control…. It’s the person that kills people, not the firearm.”

Amen! Preach it, “Lumpy”! Preach it, brother!

At this point, Lauer, too, mentions the views of Handgun Control Inc. — just a coincidence, since there is no Liberal Media Conspiracy, right? He wants to know what “Lumpy” thinks about Handgun Control’s position that since car drivers are licensed, and cars are registered, gun owners and guns should be treated the same way.

Well, “Lumpy” calmly points out: “While you do have to have a license, and you do have to register your car to drive it on the street, if you’re just going to use it on your personal property no licensing is required. With a firearm, your criminal background has to be checked. They don’t check your D.U.I. record before you can purchase an automobile. You know, so it’s completely different.”

Another bull’s-eye! Excellent!

At this point, Lauer is reduced to asking about the dreaded squirt guns. He notes that “some people” think it is “going too far” to give kids free water pistols. To which “Lumpy” replies that the kids can get the squirt guns only with parental permission. He adds: “And we would hope that the parents would use it as an educational tool to teach children that this is a toy and you can play with it. A real gun is not a toy. And you can’t play with it.”

How embarrassing. Matt Lauer makes millions of dollars and this Tennessee used car salesman has to tell him the difference between toy and real guns.

Nearing the end of this conversation — out of ammo, his question gun clicking now on chambers that are empty — Lauer takes one more pathetic cheap shot at trying to portray “Lumpy” as some sort of out-of-touch nutcake. Noting that in big cities they deal with gun violence every day, Lauer wonders if these cities are missing something, that they just aren’t getting the kind of thing “Lumpy” is doing there in Powell, Tennessee? Says “Lumpy,” one more time: “Well, sir, I think in the cities the problem you have is people with a lot of hate in their hearts. That’s what causes violence. It’s not the gun.”

Flat on the canvas, face down, but still swinging wildly — though long ago he was counted out — Lauer asks: But what about those shootings in Paducah, Kentucky, and Jonesboro, Arkansas? Well, “Lumpy” says, a lot of kids are shoved aside; we need to spend more time with our kids who all too often are raised on rap music and MTV. However, in any event, one more time: “You know, the problem is the people, not the firearms.”

But, alas, the Matt Lauers and Jane Claysons of the world do not know that people who misuse guns are the problem and not the guns. Still, Clayson’s wishing “Lumpy” good luck seems to have worked. He says the response to his “Second Amendment Saturday” was “overwhelmingly positive from the people in this country.” He got “very, very few” negative comments. And, in fact, he sold three cars that Saturday — more than most other dealers in his area sell in a week.

One man who bought a car, Bill Monroe, a retired insurance agent sick of gun buy-back programs and all the talk about trigger locks, said: “I got more guns than you can shake a stick at and two fine cars, but I wanted to support the man.” Monroe paid two grand for a custard-colored 1982 Cadillac he didn’t even test-drive.

And John Hansen, a Knoxville welder, told a group of TV reporters: “Get a car and get a gun and go huntin’ the same day. What could be more right?” Hey, sounds good to me, too.