Is the Recent Gun Control Debate Affecting Gun Sales in East Texas?

President Biden urged lawmakers in a recent speech on gun legislation to pass tougher laws, including expanding background checks by raising the age of purchase

TYLER, Texas — On Thursday, President Joe Biden addressed lawmakers in a speech about gun lawsasking lawmakers to pass tougher gun laws, following mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde.

Topics such as expanding background checks, enacting new “red flag laws” and reinstating the ban on semi-automatic weapons were at the forefront of the conversation.

In the wake of the recent mass shootings, emotions are running high, politically and locally.

Austin Rohr, owner of Superior Outfitters, says he noticed a 30% increase in gun sales overnight after the president’s speech.

“We saw a spike in sales last night online almost instantly.” said Rohr. “There was a spike in our stores today”

Rohr went on to explain that while the fear of “disenfranchisement” may be part of it, many of his clients expressed a greater fear of not being able to protect their families.

“It’s here [a 9mm pistol] is the best-selling self-defense handgun. Rohr said. “When you ban something like that, that’s when it gets really scary because now it takes away your rights as a citizen to defend your home, your family.”

Another measure being considered in a proposed bill is raising the age to purchase a firearm, following recent headlines about the Uvalde shooter buying a semi- automatic on his 18th birthday.

“Evil has no age,” Rohr said.

Client and veteran Robert Quates agreed.

“I joined the army at 17,” Quates recalled. “If I can go to war and fight for our country at 18, and be deployed and someone shoot me, then why wouldn’t I have the freedoms at home to exercise my second amendment, don’t right?” Quates said.

Rohr, who has been with the company for more than 15 years, says he is open to change and would like to see more funding for mental health and gun education.

However, the store owner also feels that the laws already in place are not sufficiently enforced, saying threats on social media need to be taken more seriously.

“When nobody checks them, that’s the problem.” said Rohr.

Superior Outfitters performs an FBI background check on all customers prior to any online or in-store purchase.

[For online firearm purchases] “At that point, we get a federal firearms license from that dealer, we make sure it’s a good license, and then we send it to that dealer.” explained Rohr. “The customer then goes through the same background check with that dealer as they do with us here at the store.”

As for the debate over semi-automatic weapons, Rohr says they have a practical purpose.

“When it comes to hunting, feral hogs come in packs of one to 30, sometimes 50, running all over the place,” Rohr said. “So try shooting these animals with just a bolt, and shoot thirty of them.”

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