I don’t own a gun, but I’ve always imagined myself with a purple or pink colored pistol if I did.

That’s probably just the girl in me, though. Because outside of this intermittent daydream, I don't have any real world experience with guns. Having lived in that type of world all my life, I had no idea what to expect when I walked into Grandpa’s Pawn & Gun shop in Longmont, Colorado — one of the largest dealers of firearms in the state.

A man named Brady greets me at the door just as he's fixing a small leak accumulating water. I immediately spot a large wall of guns as I walk through the doorway, making an immediate decision to avoid the collection until later out of sheer intimidation. 

So I enter a room to my left. There, a moose wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap between its antlers greets me and everyone walking past. Hilarious, I think to myself.

The room opens up to other stale figures of taxidermy, where a mountain of electronic amps meet my gaze. I notice prom photos there, too, with a petite brunette commanding the narrative of the pictures. She's the same girl in hunting photos hung throughout the store, proudly smiling in front of each take. I was told later that most of the animals on the walls are trophies, hunted and killed by the owner and his beautiful daughter — a person I feel I already know just by looking at the moments of her life proudly displayed around the store.

Going on, it's taking longer than expected, but after wading through various musical instruments, vinyls, gold and silver jewelry, and vintage camera equipment, I finally end up towards the front by the cash registers.

A thing to know about Grandpa’s Pawn & Gun, is that it has a little bit of everything, as every pawn shop does — but mostly guns. This small shop holds the distinction of being the second largest dealer of them in the state of Colorado. And the store owners and workers are proud of it.

About 3,500 people come into the shop weekly, says Brady, as we make small talk. In the short time I'm there, I notice about ten of them myself. I also learn, through my own observations, that everyone has reasons for wanting a gun. No two of them are the same.

A gentleman and his wife stop in, they're in the market for a hunting rifle. He admires a good looking one hanging on the wall, then loudly advertises that the thing could easily kill an elephant.

A young couple walks in during my visit to admire the guitars before telling a employee they live near a prison that has been releasing rapists making the area increasingly unsafe. The woman adds that she always hated the idea of guns until she realized she needed one.

In the background, a kid in his early 20’s goes on about his own gun collection and about how the shop is similar to his gun room in terms of display, wide open for anyone to touch. One of the dudes behind the counter, older with tattoos, shakes his head: “Not me. I don’t trust anybody anymore.” 

I ask for his picture; I’m pretty sure he doesn’t trust me either. He asks me why. I tell him the truth: I like his volume. He laughs, acknowledges he's pretty loud and lets me snap his photo. 

I do one last lap, buy a $0.25 zeroing target paper, try on a Harley Davidson leather zip up the guys tell me I can pull off, and then skim over the used camera lenses one last time before heading out.

The sign from the original shop, established in 1994, is hung in the rear where stones make up the parking lot. As I drive away, I take one last look at the outside, and think of how intimidating it appears — especially to someone like myself growing older with only dreams of their everyday reality.

I didn't get my pink handgun this time, but who knows, I might be back someday looking for it with reasons of my own.