Bad experience at Larry’s Pistol and Pawn in Huntsville

I’m not really a complainer by nature (thank goodness), and I don’t tend to have problems with customer service at most of the businesses I deal with– in part because I am picky about who gets my money. Having said that, I had a bad experience with Larry’s Pistol and Pawn in Huntsville that I wanted to document.

Larry’s has been in business for a long time; when I moved to Huntsville in 1991, they had the only indoor pistol range in town. As long as I’ve lived in the area, I’ve shopped there, and I’ve never had a bad experience. Yesterday, though, I had a salesman who was both discourteous and uninformed about the law. He refused to sell me a rifle because I am a dual resident of California and Alabama– “I won’t sell you this because it’s not legal in California,” he said. 

I explained that I’d just gone through the same process at another local store, which had called the local Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) office to confirm that it was legal. According to 27 CFR 478 § 11, it is in fact legal for a US citizen who resides in more than one state to purchase a long gun in any state of residence. I meet the legal residency definitions for both Alabama and California, and if you read Example 2 in the definition for “State of Residence” it’s clearly applicable.

Rude Guy wasn’t in the mood to listen; he told me that the other store where I’d made a previous purchase had broken the law. That didn’t seem likely; gun stores tend to be terrifically careful to follow the law and ATF regulations because failure to do so can get them shut down and their employees jailed. I politely thanked him and left. Then I called the local ATF field office myself and spoke to a very helpful ATF employee. I explained my situation, she cited 478§11 to me, told me I was good to go, and gave me her phone number to have Larry’s call her if they had any questions.

Armed with this information (ed.: see what I did there?) I went back to Larry’s, stood in line for the same guy, and explained my phone call. He was even ruder than before: “I don’t care what she said,” he said angrily; “I still won’t sell to you.” Clearly there was no point in arguing, so I left.

I’ve sent Larry Burnett, the owner, a detailed letter explaining what happened, so we’ll see what action, if any, he takes. Until I hear back, though, Larry’s is off my shopping list. If you’re in the market for firearms, ammunition, or supplies, I suggest you go elsewhere.

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32 Comments

Filed under FAIL, General Stuff, Smackdown!

32 responses to “Bad experience at Larry’s Pistol and Pawn in Huntsville

  1. What’s even more unfortunate is that if the item you were attempting to purchase is one that’s extremely popular due to recent events, it will be sold to someone else before the owner takes any action on this. Sad.

  2. Glenn

    I’d guess that the clause that supports is applicable to you is:

    “Example 2. A is a U.S. citizen and maintains a home in State X and a home in State Y. A resides in State X except for weekends or the summer months of the year and in State Y for the weekends or the summer months of the year. During the time that A actually resides in State X, A is a resident of State X, and during the time that A actually resides in State Y, A is a resident of State Y.” ??

    Seems pretty straightforward to me. I’ll bet Larry does you right.

  3. kevin

    I have also encountered rudeness at Larry’s. On several different occasions they were rude and did not seem to have the time to help me. I wanted to buy a handgun but was unsure what exactly I wanted. I asked to look at a 1911. Still unsure I asked to look at another one. The man told got upset and told me to come back when I knew what I wanted. I personally will not be doing business with them again.

  4. dandeman

    Go to Craig’s in Athens – Lindsay Lane Shopping Mall. I was very happy with the service and support to help a new gun shopper.

    • robichaux

      Thanks, Dan. I bought a rifle from them back in December; in fact I went there today to look for a stripped upper but they were closed. I’ll be back again.

  5. Kayla

    Hi! I’m Kayla and me and my family opened a new pawn shop in Madison called quality pawn. Address 7449 HWY 72 W Madison AL 35758 … We would love to help you with anything possible! Please come check our GREAT selection of ammo and guns! 256-325-3113

    • robichaux

      Thanks, Kayla– my sons and I have been to your shop a couple of times before you got your FFL. We were treated well, and your prices on .45 ACP and .223 ammo are quite reasonable. We’ll be back.

    • Ben Tipton

      I too use to shop at Larrys pistol & pawn..I to refuse to spend my $ there any longer they are the rudest business in Huntsville. They get away with it because they unfortunately have a slight monopoly in this small town. I would love for gander mountain to run them out of business.

    • Ben Tipton

      Will u bet or meet Larrys prices. Most shops say no that’s why Larrys has a monopoly but if u can & will tall will be one of the first. & I will buy a hand gun from yall ASAP.

  6. jerry

    You need to read this:
    http://wiki.calgunsfoundation.org/index.php/Transferring_firearms_Interstate

    Illegal for the DEALER

    STATE OF RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS FOR FIREARMS TRANSFERSSection 922(b)(3) of title 18, which forbids federal firearms licensees from selling or delivering “any firearm to any person who the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside
    in . . . the State in which the licensee’s place of business is located,” cannot be interpreted to define“reside in . . . the State” differently for citizens and aliens

    Illegal for the private BUYER

    (a)(3) tells us that unlicensed individuals may not go to a state where they do not live, buy a gun, take delivery of the gun, and bring it back to the state of residence

    California residents are subject to Penal Code 12070

    12070. (a) No person shall sell, lease, or transfer firearms unless he or she has been issued a license pursuant to Section
    12071.

    and 12072(d)(d) Where neither party to the transaction holds a dealer’s license issued pursuant to Section 12071, the parties to the
    transaction shall complete the sale, loan, or transfer of that firearm through a licensed firearms dealer pursuant to Section
    12082.

    Penal Code 12071 is the California firearms dealer licensing requirement. Complying “with State laws” requires using a properly licensed California FFL.

    Federal law also usually bars transfer of a firearm by an FFL to a resident of another state, unless the recipient is a Federally-licensed dealer or collector of curio or relic firearms. In some states, an FFL dealer may transfer a rifle or shotgun to a resident of another state if the prospective buyer’s state does not object, but California bars such transactions.

    check to make sure a California FFL dealer can legally receive that firearm and transfer it to you. Effective 1 July 2008, every FFL dealer wherever located who wishes to transfer a firearm to any FFL dealer in California must first register with the Firearms Bureau of the California Department of Justice and, before shipping or delivering a firearm, obtain an authorization number from the Firearms Bureau.

    • robichaux

      Thanks, Jerry, but that’s not applicable. I met the requirements of 922.b.3 by maintaining residency in Alabama. None of the firearms in question ever went back to California. PC 1207x doesn’t apply.

  7. kyle matthews

    i have lived in madison county for three years now and have gone to larrys on several occasions looking to purchase a firearm on all occasions i left the store empty handed because of their poor customer service. i barly can get anyone to help me and when i do the associate seems aggrivated that i have a question or that i may want to look at a firearm inside a case. i have vouched to never buy anything from them. i now shop at a small mom and pop type store on jordan lane called jc’s. they do not have the inventory like larrys but their customer service is much better.

  8. Bob

    Also try and get anyone at Larry’s to answer the phone at any time. But, Barnett is making a killing these days so they don’t care if you’re unhappy or not.

  9. Douglas Knox

    I AGEE THAT LARRYS HAS IN A WORD A ATTITUDE PROBLEM .I HAVE BOUGHT SEVERAL GUNS FROM THEM BUT WILL NOT ANYMORE .LARRY, PEOPLE BUILT YOU, PEOPLE CAN TEARE YOU DOWN,YOU SURE HAVE GOTTEN INDEPENDENT OVER THE YEARS,BUT THOSE LONG LINES WILL STOP IF YOU DONT GET A HOLD OF THINGS.THINK YOU NEED A BIGGER PLACE WITH MORE STAFF,SEEMS YOUR PEOPLE MAY BE SLAMMED WITH SO MUCH THEY ARE ON EDGE

  10. Tom Crain

    I’ve bought a couple of guns at Larry’s and shopped there a number of times. It’s a big store with a lot of inventory and a lot of customers. When it’s jam packed I browse and don’t take up the salespeople’s time. When I’m seriously shopping and want customer service I try to go at a time when they are not so busy and have time to work with me. That strategy has worked well for me at Larry’s. Not so well at Gander Mountain up the street. JC’s pn Jordan is a nice store, those folks are helpful. While they don’t have the inventory of Larry’s, they are very competitive when it comes to pricing a gun they will order for you!

  11. matt

    went by..RUDE AND RUSHED. I know a bit about all guns butbthey thought I was an iddiot. 450 on a glock19 gen4 brand new in box as trade in was an insult. call and they’re extremely rude… im taking my biz else were I hope larry knows how his staff is?!!!

    • Wes

      They are not going to give you more than what they can buy one for. That’s just common sense. Doesn’t matter what YOU paid for it. New Glocks can be bought for $499 retail ALL DAY. It seems you don’t know as much as you might think.

  12. John

    I have to say, I also was treated pretty rudely by one of Larry’s people. I was there to pick up a 9mm I had already paid for via internet. While we waited my dad and I browsed around. I asked one guy about a Makarov and got rude reply and a rude look. I guess since they have a lot of business they don’t really care. But it definitely has made me NOT want to go back to them for my next purchase. But I’ve found in general that most guys that work behind the gun counters in different places are a little rude and often don’t know what they’re talking about. I guess that’s why they’re behind the counter and not doing something else.

  13. mike shultz

    mike ill not be back rude people use to be a good place to shop not anymore

  14. Jay

    I’ve bought five handguns there in the last two years and got great deals on all of them, so naturally I went there during the last ar ban scare after the Connecticut thing. I saw an ad on the wall back by the ARs that said “military get $100 back back from (I think) S & W. Grabbed one of the 5 or 6 they had on the shelves and waited for a service person. Asked him if I was eligible as a Vet and he was careful to say “yeah you get that if you’re military”. I said I’d like to buy it and filled out the papers. Since there were only a handful of ARs on the rack, I figured they were all that was left and asked him if he still had all the papers and the box. He was careful to say “we have a box for yours”. as I started to fill out the paperwork he took the gun and handed it to a young helper who returned it to the shelf and brought out a new still-in-the-box gun. This gave me pause considering his reply and I figured they might just want folks to think they were running low. Now doubting his word a little, I asked for a copy of the ad on the wall so I could check the fine print. I asked him again, “Am I eligible for this rebate?” He got irritated and said “That’s between you and the manufacturer”. I stopped the paperwork and read the complete ad. Turns out the rebate was good for ACTIVE military, not vets. While he never lied to me, he was not about to clear things up either. Also there was the whole “Let them think there are only five guns left” thing. I became irritated and left. Stopped in a few times since and left each time after waiting too long for a salesperson. They’re fat right now, but when things slow back down, we will all remember.

  15. chris

    Last resort guns in Madison has a lot better customer service, after the rude treatment at Larry’s I will never return I would rather pay more than deal with them. Larry’s should invest in a trainer to come in and teach his employee’s customer service, it’s just pathetic there.

  16. Me

    It is interesting that people will declare Larry’s staff “rude” because they won’t jump through their hoops or take unnecessary risks. If the laws regarding residency are AT ALL unclear, why would Larry take the risk? He could have his entire business shutdown, lose his livelihood, and possibly wind up in jail. That is not rudeness, it is simple self preservation. Your verbal assertion that everything is fine won’t reopen his business. My interactions with Larry’s staff indicate that they are there to sell product. Not to make you feel happy. Not to educate you. You want your hand held, there are plenty of more expensive shops that are more than happy to charge you to do that for you. Larry’s sells gun products and ammunition.

    • robichaux

      Well, I’d put more weight behind a comment from someone who at least bothered to use a pseudonym, but I hear what you’re saying. I tried to get the clerk who “helped” me to call the local ATF office to verify what I’d been told, but he wasn’t interested. Fair enough; that’s his prerogative. He was, however, rude. I’m not saying he was rude because he wouldn’t do what I wanted, I’m saying he was rude because he. Was. Rude. Everyone who’s been in the South for longer than 15 minutes can easily spot the difference between rudeness and ordinary civil behavior, and this fellow was on the wrong side of that line.

  17. Doc

    I have been on both sides of the firearms counter and its hard for me to say sales staff is bad, when it could be one, or a few out of many. I do understand we created the problem because of greed also known as low prices we bombard the place and expect service now! regardless if the small place is already packed, this will put the sales staff to the test and after awhile its like a nagging spouse……..if they just had a place out back to go and yell for awhile.

  18. Jim

    They are the most arrogant wannabe’s I ever dealt with. Won’t ever do business there.

  19. I HAVE BOUGHT PLENTY OF FIREARMS THERE, I HAVE ONLY ENCOUNTERED ONE PERSON THAT HAD A SMART COMMENT. I WAS IN LOOKING FOR THE NEXT GUN TO SAVE UP FOR, AND HE ASK IF HE COULD HELP ME I TOLD HIM I WAS JUST LOOKING. HE SAID WELL SOME PEOPLE JUST LOOK OTHERS BUY.I TOLD HIM WELL GIVE ME THE MONEY I WILL BUY IT RIGHT NOW, TILL THEN I NEED TO LOOK TO SEE HOW MUCH I NEED TO SAVE UP. HE SAID SORRY. OTIHER THAN THAT EVERY TIME I HAVE ASKED FOR HELP OR INFORMATION IT HAS BEEN GIVEN WITHOUT ATTITUDE AT ALL, THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HELPFUL AND INFORMATIVE TO ME. JUST MY EXPERIENCE.

  20. GunDude

    Yeah, I take my business to the internet, Academy Sports, JC’s on Jordan Ln. and Craigs Tactical in Athens. Craig’s and JC’s will be great for a “new to guns” person that may not know what they want and what they need. BTW for the ladies that want to get into guns, go to Craig’s or JC’s….BOTH have very nice female staff to help you if that makes you more comfortable. Academy has a very good and POLITE staff, and prices are very close to Larry’s. I bought my last gun in Larry’s, and it seemed to be that I was a bother, looked at two handguns, and bought one in about 20 minutes…..because I already knew what I wanted. Now to be fair, I had ONE person in Larry’s (young military guy) that helped me one day and he was very nice, helpful and polite. He is probably lone-gone from there by now (about 8 months ago) and was the exception. Larry’s is in the business to get as much money as he can while this gun thing is going the way it is. If you know what you want, it would be OK to go there (however I don’t support that) , BUT if you don’t, please take your business elsewhere. Academy has a great selection, good prices, and friendly staff……so to make it easy, go ANYWHERE but Larry’s if you want to be treated fair and courteous, after all your the Customer, the other stores have this concept.

    • robichaux

      I bought a rifle from Craig’s about a year ago; my last experience at JC’s was probably 15 years ago, so that doesn’t count. I can’t say enough good things about Last Resort Guns (look for a future post on that topic), but whichever local shop you prefer, I encourage you to shop there whenever possible instead of hitting the big-box stores like Academy and Gander Mountain. After living in CA for a while I am very sensitive to how lucky we are in Alabama to have a diverse set of sporting goods and firearms stores, and the local shops need (and IMHO deserve) our support.

  21. t g

    I see rude people in business all of the time. THey are easy to spot. I have bot a few guns from Larrys. I also shop at every other business in town. The big box stores all have pseudo trained temp style folks, with good days and bad days. A smile and kind word always turns them around when they are harried.

    All of the local gun shops, including Larrys, have been blitzed for a couple of years now, and we all know why. They all make every effort to hire good folks. Occasionally they get less than they are looking for, and those folks are either trained, or let go. If you see them before that happens, caveat emptor. A smile and kind word still helps. When stores have many more customerst than staff, especially for long periods, EVERYONE gets harried, and frustrated, me included. A deep breath, smile and kind word still turns everything around. Expressing the frustration I feel usually escalates with most, though the pro staff can often tough it out and keep on helping, sometimes even with their own smile.

    As the biggest and most popular store, Larry’s is most likely to be swamped, for the longest time, so their staff is most likely to be harried, and perhaps the previous customer was a real piece of work. BUT – the issue is really the same as any other establishment – for the best experience, go when they have time to work with you, smile and chat, find the clerk you get along best with, and stick with them. I have had too many good experiences at Larrys to let even several bad ones scare me off, but as I said, I also shop everywhere else too, even Walley World.

    Guess what – I find similar fine folks everywhere, but also an occasional issue… what I have not found, south of the Mason Dixon, East of the Sierra Nevada, is a CULTURE of problems at ANY establishment selling firearms.

    But out of state, or if they, in their experience, consider it a POSSIBILITY that you might be out of state, experiences can be annoying. I consider that government intrusiveness and societal ignorance, not bad business practices.

    All of the managers would work to make things as pleasant as the customer and circmstances would allow.

    I would like to give thanks and props to all of the clerks, managers, owners, and manufacturers in the firearms industry during this rathar difficult time.

    Thanks to those reading for your indulgence, and enjoy safe shooting. -tg

  22. Family Jewelry and Loan located at 11563 S Mem Pkwy Huntsville, Al 35803 now has the FFL. We are buying and selling firearms and we appreciate every person walking in our door. So if your tired of same old attitude come down and check out the store where you will be greeted with a smile and you will come back. 256 469-7635 open 9-6 Mon- Sat.

  23. I have been buying guns from Larry since I got my first one a Police Snub nose 38 that a Detective had to turn in because of either the service life had expired or number of rounds he had fired through it. He was a former State Pistol Champion although he did not use the 38 in competition he loved to shoot so he put at least a 1000 rounds through it more likely 5000 knowing him. The city sold it to Larry’s and the Police officer a Detective made sure I got his gun along with a License to carry from the Sheriff’s office making me an Honorary Deputy Sheriff. It had no expiration date on it. I still have it but also get the new licenses with your Picture on it that are accepted in 20 plus states. I have bought 4 guns from Larry through the years and never had a problem. In the old days it may have been because they knew me as I ran one of if not the largest nightclubs in Huntsville for five years from early 1975 through 1979, and worked at another one of the well known ones for about a year. However they certainly did not know me when I bought my last one a Ruger LCP about 2 years ago because I wanted a smaller CCP. Granted they are busy and I do not like to ask questions if they are packed I just come back when they are not as busy. That may be one reason I got a little better treatment. I also think it speeds up their paperwork if you have a valid concealed carry permit, although I am not positive. Sorry for your problem and I certainly hope Larry reads some of these posts. He built his business on trust and good prices. He never had bad service in the early years or at least I never heard anyone complain. Again I hope he contacted you.

  24. Please delete this one a double post and this one has correct spelling.

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