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Is the recent gun control debate affecting East Texas firearm sales?

President Biden urged lawmakers in a recent speech on gun legislation to pass stricter laws including expanding background checks raising the age for purchase

TYLER, Texas — On Thursday, President Joe Biden addressed lawmakers in a speech on gun legislation, asking lawmakers to pass stricter gun laws, following mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde.

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

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

Austin Rohr, owner of Superior Outfitters, says he noticed a 30% increase in gun sales overnight following the president's address.

"We has a spike in sales last night online almost instantly." said Rohr. "There has been a spike in our stores today"

Rohr went on to explain that although the fear of "rights being taken away" could be a part of it, many of his customers expressed a greater fear of not being able to protect their family.

"This right here [a 9mm pistol] is the number one selling, self-defense handgun." said Rohr. "When you ban something like this is when it really gets scary because now its taking away your rights as a citizen to defend your home, your family."

Another measure under review in a proposed bill is increased the age for purchasing a gun, following recent headlines made in relation to the Uvalde shooter purchasing a semi-automatic weapon on his 18th birthday.

"Evil has no age," said Rohr.

Customer and veteran Robert Quates, agreed.

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

Rohr, who has been in the business for more than 15 years, says he is open toward change and would like to see more funding for mental health and firearm education.

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

"When nobody checks them out, that's the problem." said Rohr.

Superior Outfitters runs an FBI background screening on all customers before any online or in-store purchase is made. 

[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 ship that to that dealer." explained Rohr. "The customer then goes through the same background check with that dealer as they would with us here at the store."

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

"When it comes to hunting, wild hogs come in packs of one to 30, sometimes 50, running around" said Rohr. "So, try shooting these animals with just a bolt action, and shooting thirty of them."

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