Why getting robbed at gunpoint didn't make me want to invest in a gun

Being Robbed at GunpointI have always loved movies. In high school, and then later in college as a Radio/Television/Film major, I worked part-time at movie theaters. Free movies was a big reason why. But it was also at movie theaters where my earliest exposure to guns and gun violence took place. I’ve had nothing since that time to compare to the shock of what happened, but in today’s America I don’t need first-hand exposure as I watch so many innocent people, even children, die at the end of a gun.

I was robbed at gunpoint, twice, while working at the theater. The memories of both incidents are embedded in my brain. I will never forget them. The first one is the most memorable, I think, due primarily to the fact that I was alone working at the ticketing booth. I was young and certainly naïve about guns. This was some thirty years ago. I had never seen a gun, a rifle or any such weapon in my life. My dad was a hunter, not an avid one, but he preferred the challenge, the true sport, of hunting with bow and arrow. He gave it up completely when he found another sport that required hitting a target: golf.

I heard the door to the lobby open. These new customers, arriving at an inopportune time since nothing was due to start for a solid hour and a half, walked up to the window and mumbled something. I had my head down, reading a book.

I heard them open the outer doors and sensed their approach as I tried to quickly finish off a paragraph. I raised my head just as one of them spoke. I asked, assuming they asked for tickets to a movie, “Which movie?” And then, much louder and more clearly one of them responded, “Give me the money.”

I looked up to their faces from having my face in my book. Good looking black guys. I assumed they were friends with one of our ushers, another black fella who was sweet and funny and fun to be with. I immediately assumed these two guys were his friends, and they were playing a joke on me. I said, “You’re kidding!” and then I looked down to see a gun pointing at me through the cash slot.

“Gimme the money,” the one with the gun said more urgently. I said “okay” and he replied with “Don’t push any buttons.” I told them I had no buttons to push and immediately began to worry because the money in the cash drawer was close to what I started with that night. Just under $200 was what they got away with. I did have more money in the back of the drawer, but they couldn’t see it. They took the money I placed on the counter, left the quarters that I had stacked nearby, which would have been within easy reach of a hand not handling a large, black handgun.

They turned from the counter and headed for the outer doors. The manager walked into the outer lobby from the inner lobby where the concession stand resided just as the two walked out the door. I waited for the vacuum sound that signaled that the doors were completely shut, not wanting to place the manager in danger. As soon as the doors closed, I called, “Chris, they took the money!” He turned to me and said, I kid you not: “Your’re kidding.”

Even after all of that, my heart didn’t really start pounding until he ordered me to, “Call the police!” As I sat there in shock, I wanted to kill them, but I know that I had dodged a bullet, I’ll be damned if I could remember that calling the police was a simple matter of dialing the numbers 911.

The point of telling this story is for people to understand that my situation could not have been helped by having a gun behind the counter or even in my hand. Even if I had been fully alert, with the gun already drawn, I had no way of knowing the intentions of these criminals until I had a gun pointed at me. Fact is, having a gun myself may have gotten me killed.

It used to be, for the most part, we only needed to worry about “criminals” when it came to guns. This was, of course, well before the mass proliferation of guns in this country. Because of these new and lax gun laws, combined with the indoctrination of easily malleable, non-thinking people in this country thanks to the National Rifle Association and their purposeful misinterpretation of our poorly written second amendment.

I cannot fathom how we think that increasing the number of guns will make us safer. How would my situation have been helped with more guns at the theater? Had the manager had a gun, we may both be dead… over two hundred dollars I might add! Often times, defending yourself with nothing but words is what keeps you alive. Having a gun on hand can cause you to do something stupid, even with proper training.

I am a software consultant who believes that the sooner we learn to accept and love the diversity of all peoples, the sooner we will figure out how to improve everyone's lives, which benefits us all. I love dogs, writing, gardening, photography and movies. I love dogs, did I mention that already? Mine are a three-pack of Beagle-ish boys named Fred, Homer and Atticus. I truly hit the doggie jackpot, but I usually do. Shelter dogs are the ONLY way to go!


  1. maybe, might of, could have. a whole lot of speculation doesn’t do any good. because i can give you plenty of examples where a having a gun ensured that the situation did not escalate. And several of them are personal. My dad stopped a burglar in our house once who came in while they were sleeping because he pointed a gun at his chest and told him not to move. A man in a store stopped a robber with a gun who was holding up the clerk and forcing her to open the safe in the back of the store.

    The reality is, is that this is reality. and the scenario can play out both ways. it could go worse, or it could go a lot better. You see it as fighting over “two hundred dollars” but really all you are doing is missing the bigger picture. where thugs like that are allowed to commit crimes such as that nearly un-opposed their crimes escalate on a continuum until they kill someone or get killed themselves.

    the problem here is relying on the cops sounds well and good, but cops are very recognizable. thugs like that can figure out where the cops are and are not very easily so if they know the citizenry is unlikely to be armed they feel more secure that they will be able to get what they want without a fight.

    You want people like that to think to themselves “shit, what happens if i go to the store and the clerk pulls out a shotgun” you want THEM to be the ones thinking “man, i don’t want to die over two hundred dollars” because for you, yea you might die, but if you don’t you will more than likely continue on with your life not particularly bothering anyone. But for them, when nothing happens it is an invitation to dream bigger and get more violent.

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