Today I bought a gun in Orange County, California, or at least my main character did. Chris Hunter—the main character of The Hunter Chronicles, available here for free download—is back in his origins in this book, his story starting when his schizophrenic sister is raped by a gangster. He is forced to fight a gang war to avenge her honor. And as part of that, Chris needed to buy a gun.
At first, I thought to take him to his shooting range in Tustin, where he would buy a gun legally. But there is little conflict in simply buying a gun, unless there is something to get in the way, so I decided to look at California gun legislation at the time of my story, approximately 2005. I found this, here, a compendium of California gun laws at the time.
I didn’t get very far, my thoughts drifting as I scanned through the table of contents. I got to the point where it listed the rules for gun purchase and I saw that there really was nothing that would reasonably provide conflict, so I had to go for a different option, Chris couldn’t buy a gun from a legal retailer.
I remember reading a Jack Reacher novel, I don’t know which one, in which Reacher walked into a gangster’s apartment and beat him up to steal a gun. I didn’t want to do that, but I could manage a sale by an underground provider. I thought that man up and realized he would want to go somewhere he could be certain no Catholics would see him sale a man a gun, and there’s no better place than the Crystal Cathedral.
When I was a missionary in Orange County—back in 2000-2002—I remember the Crystal Cathedral as a symbol of the enemy. Protestants often thought it fun to bash Mormons, or at least they did in Orange County, bastion of conservative rightwing American evangelism. We often drove past the edifice on Chapman Avenue and saw the shining glass tower, the main building, the parking lot with its drive through worship option. It was a travesty to religion, we though, a monument to man. But it was very Protestant, despite the fact that in 2015 it was purchased by the Catholic church, in 2005 it was still the home to his founder, Robert Schuller, who grew famous as a televangelist with his program the “Hour of Power”.
I knew some of this, but not all of it, so I searched for the Crystal Cathedral. I found this 2017 article about the Cathedral and its origins, its history, and its bankruptcy. I found this information, and the images that accompanied it, quite useful.
I therefore wrote a scene where my main character goes to the Crystal Cathedral to purchase a gun from an Orthodox Catholic son of immigrants. Conflict and texture managed.