Guns n' Ammo
April 5, 2007 11:10 AM   Subscribe

Buying a local laptop on Craigslist from a guy with a gun. Precautions I should take re. the meeting?

Normally, wouldn't ask this, as I've done tons of stuff on CL before, however, in this case, I'll be paying a good amount of money and don't want to take any unnecessary risks re. the meeting. Obviously I'm going to check out the laptop itself and feel perfectly competent in my abilities to do so, however, I want to make sure I'm thinking sensibly about the meeting itself. Therefore my questions:

1. We'll do the meeting at a public place and during daylight - probably mid afternoon on a weekday. I was thinking potentially a library or something similar - any other thoughts? I will be going by myself (although I'm a big guy) and may take a friend along with me. Neighboorhood we're going to is one that I'm vaguely familiar with and is pretty safe.
2. Guy tells me on the phone he wanted to give me a heads up that he has a concealed weapons permit and will be carrying a firearm. He mentioned that if it bothered me, we could halt the transaction. It's not really bothering me since the fact that he volunteered this makes me think everything is above board - surely if was trying to scam etc he wouldn't give me a reason to back out. Again, though it is a new situation for me, so is there something I'm missing here? Is there a way I can verify that he does have the permit?
3. Anything else I should be thinking about?
posted by Mave_80 to Computers & Internet (44 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Are you kidding me?

Granted, your post lends itself to interpretation, but I don't see how "concealed weapons permit" == honest. Maybe this guy doesn't want you to fuck with him, worse maybe he's paranoid, worse maybe he's ex-military and he takes something the wrong way and tries to snap your neck off. Meanwhile, you're so worried he actually has a gun, that you back off and give him the laptop.

And a library? What is this, a joke? Go to a police station so that at least if he shoots you in the head, somebody there will be around to arrest him.
posted by phaedon at 11:18 AM on April 5, 2007

I wonder if you can independently confirm that he has a concealed weapons permit.

I would assume that someone who actually did wouldn't want to risk it by ripping you off over the cost of a laptop. I would also assume that someone who would rip you off the cost of a laptop would claim up front to have a concealed weapons permit in order so you'd be terrified for your life when time came to rip you off. Another option is that he doesn't have either a concealed weapon, or a concealed weapons permit, but he is claiming to so you won't think of ripping him off.
posted by Good Brain at 11:21 AM on April 5, 2007

Ask him to meet you in the lobby of your local courthouse. You'll feel better if he and his gun go through the metal detector and he'll feel better knowing that you're both in a building filled with cops, guards and surveillance cameras.
posted by jamaro at 11:22 AM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

If the guy has a concealed weapons permit, most likely he will not be able to take a weapon with him into any government buildings, which I believe includes libraries, though I'm not sure. Why not just your local Starbucks or something?

I bet he's just trying to send signals that he's not defenseless, and he jus feels vulnerable to being scammed. If the meeting was in a public place, I wouldn't think twice about meeting up with him. Then again, half the people in my family have concealed weapons permits and are often armed, so maybe I'm just used to it.
posted by hermitosis at 11:23 AM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

To me, it would have meant that he is also concerned about meeting a stranger with a valuable item in his possession. I'd've interpreted it as a "if you were planning to come to my house and steal this laptop, you got another think coming."

If it concerns you so, a public exchange doesn't seem that weird to me. But I'd've picked a coffee shop, not a library.
posted by whatzit at 11:27 AM on April 5, 2007

Guy tells me on the phone he wanted to give me a heads up that he has a concealed weapons permit...

WTF? and you seriously still wish to go there? he basically told you he thinks you are a threat - without any reason whatsoever. you didn't provoke him, you didn't meet him, yet he warns you he's dangerous. bad bad omen. this guy lives in a different reality than the rest of us. you should be better safe than sorry and avoid contact.
posted by krautland at 11:30 AM on April 5, 2007

Will you be paying him in cash or writing him a check?

More to the point, is he willing to take a check? If you're really worried that this is some sort of complicated holdup, I'd avoid going in with a few hundred dollars cash in your pocket.

(FWIW, In every state I'm aware of, it's a matter of public record who has CCPs. How you get that information may vary state to state, though.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:32 AM on April 5, 2007

Set up your meeting at your bank branch, that way you don't have to have any money on you until you check out the laptop, and if he wants to hold you up for the cash, he's gonna have to hold up the whole bank.
posted by zarah at 11:39 AM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Good call on the courthouse / cop shop / bank. Will look into that. Seems to make more sense than the library - only reason I thought of that was that it would be busy and there might be some sort of security (unlike a Starbucks). Also, the guy really didn't seem like a nutjob (aside from the small issue of him bringing a gun to a knifefight - just kidding) otherwise I'd have already walked away... Like the idea of Chuck Norris - I'll see if he's available.
posted by Mave_80 at 11:46 AM on April 5, 2007

I had a conceal and carry permit from 1994 to 1997 in Chicago and it is common practice, at least when interacting with law enforcement agencies to inform them of that fact. My partner and I always called ahead to stores or agencies to let the people in charge know that we would be carrying a weapon. In Illinois we were required to carry five credentials; our badges, a FOID card, Tan card, PERC card and a letter from our employer. Almost all of these items were issued by the State. I don't know what state you're in but Illinois does have an online searchable database of licensees. If you know his name, maybe you could perform a similar search in your state?

In Chicago, all weapons have to be checked and locked before entering a building. It was this way at city hall and The Daley Center if memory serves me correct.

On the surface, his intentions appear honorable; he's letting you know up front. On the other hand, you seem to be taking appropriate precautions ie., public meeting, daylight hours, etc. Do you know any more about this guy? Name? Address? If you do, I'd suggest trying a search with your state's online database. Typically it will be called the Office of Professional Regulation. If you do not find his license listed there, I'd be a little more leery.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:48 AM on April 5, 2007

This is interesting, because I had a different interpretation than everyone else in the thread (which probably means that I'm wrong, but whatever).

My read was that this guy has a concealed carry permit (and makes use of that privilege), but realizes that there are people who will be surprised/put off by running into a firearm during a business deal. He's found that if he gives his craigslist contacts a heads-up beforehand, there's less of an "oh shit, he has a gun" reaction when they see him with the glock strapped to his waist.

I guess it's all in his tone of voice. If he said "By the way, so you don't get freaked out when we meet, I have a concealed carry permit that I make use of," then I'd say he's probably on the up-and-up, and is just trying to give you some info. If he said "I have a concealed carry permit, and I'm not afraid to use the butt of it to crush your skull in before I plug you one in the face, you craigslist buying freak of nature," then you probably have a somewhat larger problem on your hands.
posted by Inkoate at 11:49 AM on April 5, 2007 [5 favorites]

1. Like any other CL transaction, it's a good idea to bring a friend if anything about the situation makes you uncomfortable. You will be able to relax and concentrate on checking out the laptop.

2. Most states make you go through a background check and a class to get a CCW. It's most likely a matter of public record in your state. Here's the wikipedia article on concealed carry.

Most of the posters here seem to think there is some danger to you that he has a CCW. Most people who go to the trouble of acquiring a CCW are not planning to use their firearm to commit crimes, and have had training in safe firearm handling. Most states check for felonies before issuing a CCW. I don't see any special danger to you here.

3. A courthouse with a metal detector won't let him carry a gun through, and there are various places where it is not legal to bring a firearm even with a CCW.

Having a CCW does not make him a paranoid nut. It seems odd that he would mention it - he might not be as familiar with selling on CL as you, or if you got to chatting on the phone he might have meant it as conversation. A friend of mine has a CCW and a big interest in firearms, and talks about guns in a very geeky way. Going to a gun shop with him, well, it's like going to an electronics store with one of my more conventionally geeky friends.
posted by yohko at 11:49 AM on April 5, 2007

Take a friend, make it a busy public place, and it'll probably be fine. Having a concealed carry permit is kind of a hassle -- there are lots of places you can't legally carry, situations in which it could potentially cause trouble, etc. Selling a big-ticket item to somebody is definitely among the latter. His telling you about it is probably just an attempt to avoid what might happen if you caught a glimpse of the gun and (understandably) freaked out.
posted by vorfeed at 11:54 AM on April 5, 2007

Response by poster: Have just suggested the police station as a place to meet. I also asked for his license number so I can check it out (it seems like VA has an online database as well). We'll see what he says. Thanks for all the great answers - feel free to add to them!
posted by Mave_80 at 12:09 PM on April 5, 2007

I have my concealed permit, and truthfully, most guys with them are legit due to the extensive background checks you must go through to even qualify for it (plus taking a class, etc).

But it is illegal for him to carry in banks, government buildings and the like. If he mentioned to you that he does carry, then he'll know these things. You'll be alright, no worries.
posted by uncballzer at 12:25 PM on April 5, 2007

My understanding was the same as Inkoate. At some point in time, someone freaked out that this guy had his gun with him for some day-to-day task, and now he warns people in advance to prevent them running away and calling 911 for something that's legal but uncommon to many.
posted by mendel at 12:34 PM on April 5, 2007

He won't bring a gun into a police station. You can always meet in a restaurant. Have him sit down right next to you and bring a friend to sit on the other side. Sit close to him, as close as possible. Aim for a booth style setup with him next to the wall or glass. Make sure his hands are in sight, above the table, at all times. If he goes to the bathroom follow him. Stay behind him when he's moving. Bring a knife and if you think he's going to make a move stab him in the face (try to put some blood in his eyes) and run away.
posted by nixerman at 12:38 PM on April 5, 2007 [4 favorites]

If he really carries concealed, then concealed is generally supposed to mean hidden from view. Honestly I don't know why he felt like he should tell you in that situation.

However, I believe Virginia also allows unconcealed carry, and that might be how this guy carries. In fact, I think no license is required in Virginia for unconcealed carry. (see If that is his preferred mode of carry, I can see why he'd give you advanced warning there, just so not to freak you out.
posted by dcjd at 12:39 PM on April 5, 2007

another vote for bringing a friend. I also agree that it seems logical that anyone who went through the trouble of getting a permit is probably not going to rip you off over a (presumably used) laptop.

Sounds like you're being safe about it. Good luck.
posted by boreddusty at 12:39 PM on April 5, 2007

Response by poster: Mendel - that was my gut too. However, decided it wouldn't hurt to have some hive-mind wisdom to back it up. Also, just called the circuit court and validated his weapons permit using a license number he just sent me. Given that he also provided that with no reservations, at the point I'm pretty happy about things. Thanks for the help everyone!
posted by Mave_80 at 12:41 PM on April 5, 2007

n-thing the idea that the seller mentioned this to forestall any kind of hold-up or scam on your part. The guy sounds like he might be a little paranoid (thus the C&C in the first place, perhaps), but he's probably on the up-and-up since it's a pain to get a permit and he mentioned it up-front. Public place, friend along, you'll be fine and hopefully get a good deal on a laptop!
posted by maniactown at 12:42 PM on April 5, 2007

The CCW is nothing to get worked up about. While I don't have one, I have several friends who day, and yes, it is a pain, and you do get used to informing people about it. At least in Texas, you're required by law to, for example, let an officer making a traffic stop on you know that you have a CCW and a weapon in the car, even if it's out of reach. Not doing so can land you in a heap of trouble. CCW carriers often get used to just making it plain as day, to avoid any troublesome situations, as many above have said.

Here's something you can do, if it makes you more comfortable: before you do anything else with him, ask to see his carry license. If he's legit, he shouldn't have any problem showing it to you. If he was going to gank you, he wouldn't have a license, or bother telling you about it. Jot down his full name and his license number, and should anything untoward happen, you'll have recourse.

Carrying a weapon in the comission of another crime makes for a much more serious offense, and he'd know that.

Do what makes you comfortable, but really: don't worry about it. You'll be fine.
posted by jammer at 12:45 PM on April 5, 2007

Ah, you already did exactly what I suggested while I was typing. Good work, and good luck with the laptop!
posted by jammer at 12:46 PM on April 5, 2007

I think the bottom line is, how much do you really want this laptop? Enough to run license checks on concealed weapons permits in Virginia? That much? Really?
posted by raconteur at 12:48 PM on April 5, 2007

Good gravy. It's what Inkoate said. Exactly.
posted by Alt F4 at 12:49 PM on April 5, 2007

Just back out. Anyone who thinks laptop purchasing can become a life or death matter is paranoid and probably unstable. Don't encourage this kind of thing.

And DONT bring a friend. If youre going to be foolish, don't drag a third-party into this guys paranoid gun fetish fantasy. Seriously, its a laptop not the hope diamond.

Lastly, how confident will you feel to ask for your money back if this laptop turns out to be a serious lemon? Or when you haggle. Mr "I'm armed when I buy groceries" is going to laugh at you on the phone.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:03 PM on April 5, 2007

I'm agreeing with the crowd saying that something happened to him in the past (person got freaked out by a gun or he got screwed over in a deal) so warns people first. Bring a friend, go to a heavily trafficked coffee shop, and will be well.
Sounds like most people are paranoid. There are some people out there who will rob you at gunpoint for $20. I don't see any reason to think otherwise about a $1000 laptop.
posted by jmd82 at 1:13 PM on April 5, 2007

And DONT bring a friend. If youre going to be foolish, don't drag a third-party into this guys paranoid gun fetish fantasy. Seriously, its a laptop not the hope diamond.

Lastly, how confident will you feel to ask for your money back if this laptop turns out to be a serious lemon? Or when you haggle. Mr "I'm armed when I buy groceries" is going to laugh at you on the phone.

Proposterous and offensive.

Fortunately, it sounds like the OP is better grounded in reality than this.
posted by jammer at 1:13 PM on April 5, 2007

I have a concealed weapons permit and carry regularly - just about everywhere I go except work (who would fire me if I carried there) or places where it's illegal such as bars and post offices.

You would be surprised to find how many people you pass on the street are carrying. It isn't necessarily a sign of bad intentions that the guy has a permit or is carrying; in fact CCW holders are LESS likely to commit violent crime than the general public. (see

However, people who carry on a regular basis usually do not advertise this fact. For many, only their closest friends and family know. To mention it is to open yourself up to misconceptions, like that you must be a criminal.

That being said, I see three reasons that this particular person might have announced this to you:

1) Avoiding the discomfort and embarrassment that would result from you discovering that he's carrying without him warning you. Most don't talk about it but some are probably a bit more forthcoming.

2) Letting you know that HE plans not to be ripped off or robbed, just in case you were planning on it. If you were, you probably would have stopped the transaction then and there. He gave you an easy "out" in suggesting that you might be too uncomfortable with this to continue.

3) As suggested above, to let you know ahead of time that he has a gun, so that he can rip YOU off and know that you won't resist.

By the way, at least in Florida, you cannot use a gun to protect property (unless it's your own house or occupied car), but only to protect life from the imminent threat of deadly force. In most states, if the gun doesn't stay concealed (he draws and "brandishes" it), in most states he's already committed a crime against you.

As far as the legality of carrying in libraries, it depends upon not only the state, but if the library is publicly or privately owned.
posted by tkolstee at 1:25 PM on April 5, 2007

This is fucking crazy. Once you start concocting scenarios that involve "watch what he's doing with his hands" I'm out. I am sure the guy's innocent, a little paranoid, wanted to warn you he wasn't going to take any shit, but also don't be freaked out if you notice the gun in my jacket.

I am willing to accept that some people are responsible with guns, but in this situation, and I am totally just talking my own personal response, I would tell the guy that people like me are freaked out by people like him carrying guns and he can sell his laptop to someone else.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:33 PM on April 5, 2007

Let me just put it this way: he has a gun, and there are a LOT of laptops for sale on CL.
posted by thejoshu at 1:58 PM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

You'd take the same precautions with him as you would take with anyone you're buying a high-priced item from. The CCW is not a reason to be freaked out (afterall, he likely had to take a class/pass a test/pass a background check in order to get one).

(I am shocked at some of the attitudes here;particularly those that presume of mental imbalance or violent tendencies of someone who has a state-sanctioned permit to carry a gun! What kind of experience have you people had with gun owners?!)
posted by parilous at 2:01 PM on April 5, 2007

I agree with parilous.. a lot of people in here are coming off as even more paranoid than anything else.

Lots of people in the United States have concealed weapons permits.

And a LOT of people have been flat out robbed while dealing with things off of craigslist. We had an increase in armed robberies around here a while back. People would meet up, and the robbers would pull a gun and rob the seller of the item and whatever else they had.

So, if this guy is a legit CCW holder and is armed, he'll probably show up to do the transaction quite happily. If *you* don't show up, then you're probably just confirming *his* suspicions.

There's also a chance that he told you just to let you know because we have a lot of completely ridiculous anti-gun zealots here too that will cry like a nut and call 911 if they see any hint of a firearm. Perhaps he's just trying to protect himself. As a whole, CCW holders commit far far fewer crimes than the rest of the population. (Google it yourself, the stats are out there)
If the guy was going to rob you, do you think he'd tell you ahead of time that he was armed?

Either way, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Let us know how it goes!
posted by drstein at 2:24 PM on April 5, 2007

(I am shocked at some of the attitudes here;particularly those that presume of mental imbalance or violent tendencies of someone who has a state-sanctioned permit to carry a gun! What kind of experience have you people had with gun owners?!)

Shall we really open this can of worms here? Reasonable people may feel differently than you do. There are statistics about people who carry concealed weapon permits and there are statistics about the liklihood of violent incidents increasing because of the mere presence of a weapon. Nobody is advocating banning guns, the OP asked my opinion and I am just saying I would be uncomfortable about the power differential that exists because of the gun if I am going to go meet a random guy I know nothing about for a business negotiation.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:34 PM on April 5, 2007

I thought the point of having a concealed weapon was that no one could see it (unless, obviously, it was about to be used). In fact, I thought was illegal to openly display your weapon if you had a concealed carry permit. Therefore, by definition, no one this guy is meeting should know he's packing.
posted by desjardins at 3:06 PM on April 5, 2007

Another +1 for Inkoate. It's reasonable that you might be uncomfortable with the power differential that exists because of the gun. It's not reasonable to begin concocting bizarre Wild West shootout scenarios brought on by a lunatic gun fetishist. You're doing the right thing by meeting in a place that makes you feel safe and comfortable. There doesn't seem to be any serious risk for you, unless there's some key detail missing from your post.
posted by punishinglemur at 3:11 PM on April 5, 2007

The guy is basically telling you that he isn't expecting to be robbed and will be taking precautions against it. If he intended to rob you or shoot you, he would not have told you that he had the gun. For all you know he's a cop and may be required to carry a concealed weapon while off-duty.

Most folks who intended to rob him would probably not choose to do so, knowing that he was armed. That's certainly why he told you this; having a CCW gives you the right to not tell people that you're carrying, so he expressly waived that right in your case, intending to scare you off if you are a thief.

Unless you were intending to rob the guy, it doesn't mean anything. Go do the transaction, safe in the knowledge that if an onlooker should see the valuable laptop and a wad of cash and decide to rob both of you, you're protected.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:20 PM on April 5, 2007

Wow it seems lots of people suspect CCW permit holders.
I find that odd I guess, my take on this would be that the seller is protecting himself and also being polite to the buyer.

This article outlines previous problems from both sides with craigslist ads. I thought concealed carry permit holders are obligated to carry concealed though.
I'm in Texas and this seems no big deal to me considering I probably walk around in public with I would venture to guess maybe 10-15% of people around me might be carrying without my knowledge.

To answer the question, I'd select a coffee shop or somewhere that you could test wireless if the laptop has it, etc. Bring a friend if you like and good luck on the laptop purchase.

if I had a ccw permit I'd probably do the same if I was selling a laptop - I'd be polite about the fact I was bringing it and figure it wouldnt worry a normal person these days and well if you were calling to scam me out of my laptop at gunpoint or whatever, well you'd know that you'd find easier pickings on another ad on craigslist I guess.
posted by clanger at 3:21 PM on April 5, 2007

If someone told me over the phone that they would be bringing a gun when they met me, I would very much decline the meeting, and not because I was planning to rob them. Guns make me very uncomfortable, and that would come across as a very weird thing to say.
posted by Joh at 3:43 PM on April 5, 2007

don't buy a used laptop.
don't hang out with strangers who tell you they have guns.
posted by twistofrhyme at 3:47 PM on April 5, 2007

I own a couple of very nice guns, but rarely even think about them. This guy thinks about his gun all the time. He’s an asshole.
posted by Huplescat at 5:08 PM on April 5, 2007

Personally, I wouldn't think twice about completing the transaction. It sounds like many of the posters need to go take a few gun classes and handle a firearm, so they realize that they don't just jump out of the holster and start shooting people.

Given that many/most people selling things on Craigslist are half-expecting to be robbed or whatever and would totally go apeshit if they happened to notice the gun despite the CCW holder attempting to keep it concealed, telling people seems like a good policy all around, even discounting the "I'm carrying, so don't try to rip me off" motivation.

Us middle of the country people don't think much of guns, even those of us that don't own any. I can totally understand how someone who has never been exposed to them and has gotten their information about them from TV would be uncomfortable around them. Double that for people who have been victims of crime involving the threatened use of a firearm. That doesn't mean it's rational, but it is understandable.
posted by wierdo at 7:00 PM on April 5, 2007

wierdo, I have been to a gun range (with a good friend who owns several guns) and shot various different types of guns just to find out what the experience is like and for the challenge, and I still feel uncomfortable around guns. I realise they don't jump out of a holster and start shooting people. Crazy people shoot strangers for no reason, and someone you have never met who thinks its important to tell you about his gun as part of a laptop transaction falls under the "possibly crazy" category in my brain. As others have said, this may just be reacting to a previous bad experience, but I would still feel uneasy.
posted by Joh at 11:23 PM on April 5, 2007

"I thought concealed carry permit holders are obligated to carry concealed though."

They're not. We still have several states that are "open carry."
posted by drstein at 10:06 AM on April 6, 2007

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