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Gun sales remain high after 'crazy' 2020

(Michael Saechang/Flickr)

First-time gun owners, women and Californians are driving high gun sales in Austin and Texas, according to local gun shop owners.

Gun sales are almost as high as last year, when they spiked, driven by lockdowns, mass protests, police reform and the presidential election.

FBI background checks, which serve as a proxy for gun sales, increased 56% between 2019 and 2020 in Texas. There were 915,296 background checks in Texas between January and May, which is about on par with the number during the same period in 2020 and about one-third more than during the same period in 2019.

"We've been busy," General Manager of McBride's Guns on North Lamar Joe McBride said before jumping off the phone to attend to his store. A Girl and A Gun, a women's shooting league based in Cedar Park, has also seen steady demand for memberships, Executive Director Robyn Sandoval wrote in an email to Austonia. The league welcomed 701 new members, a record-high, in March and 429 last month.

Behind the sales

Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works in South Austin, said demand started to level off in March and April after a crazy 2020. "Lines out the door," he said. "We had about 10,000 students cross our doors to take a class."

Although demand isn't quite as high as it was at its peak last year, it remains strong and is accompanied by better supply now that certain pandemic-related supply chains have been resolved, Cargill said. He declined to share more specific numbers.

First-time gun owners are driving this demand in Austin and around the country. A survey by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearm trade association and lobbying group, found that first-time gun buyers made up around 40% of customers between January and April 2020.

Cargill has noticed this at Central Texas Gun Works. Another new customer base? California transplants. "New residents are coming in with paper licenses, fresh in from California," he said.

Women are also a driving force, buying guns at unprecedented rates. The same NSSF survey found that women made up around 40% of first-time gun buyers between January and April 2020. A Girl and A Gun surveyed more than 6,000 members last summer and found that personal protection was the primary reason women were not only purchasing guns but also seeking out training for how to use them.

The pandemic inspired Austin-area resident Dawn Holmes to get a license to carry a concealed weapon last July. (Dawn Holmes)

Ongoing concerns

Cargill listed a series of events that could send gun sales shooting up even further. When a 20-hour manhunt ensued for a former Travis County sheriff's deputy that shot and killed three people in mid-April, it may have sent Austinites to gun stores. "Whenever they see something like that on the news, people tend to go to stores and say, 'Hey, I need to think about protecting my family,'" Cargill said.

Rising violent crime may have a similar effect. There have been 33 homicides in Austin so far this year, nearly double the number that had occurred by this time last year and closer to triple the number in 2019.

There's also legislation. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will likely sign a bill allowing permitless carry, although Cargill doesn't anticipate this will impact gun sales. But federal gun control measures would, he said. After a mass shooting in San Jose, California, last month—the 244th in the U.S. this year—President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

"When you get gun rights, that doesn't drive sales," Cargill said. "When you lose gun rights, that drives sales."


Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation

🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway