Whiile some Central Texas residents were busy admiring the new jewelry, iPhones and teddy bears they got for Christmas, others were busy sighting in new Russian assault rifles, shotguns and pistols.
Unconventional gift giving caused a spike in gun sales for one local business this holiday season.
Rick Fitzgerald, a volunteer at Texas Star Shooting Range in Kempner, said gun sales rose by 50 percent this season, with an additional 15 percent increase in firing range patronage.
“There’s been quite a few (people) out on the range that have gotten Christmas gifts,” Fitzgerald said. “I teach concealed handgun license classes, and we’ve sold quite a few gift certificates. Plus, we’ve had people buy membership certificates to the range for extended family.”
Gary Lehmkuhler, 50, of Copperas Cove, gifted himself a 1977 Yugoslavian SKS semi-automatic rifle for Christmas. “I didn’t have it yet,” he said. “It’s probably the last one I’m going to buy for a while, so it had to be a good one. You don’t see many SKSs around here, so I had to have it.”
Lehmkuhler was not alone in his gift buying preferences this season. Other recipients of self-bought holiday weaponry joined him at Texas Star shooting range over the weekend. Nearly half its patrons on Saturday were target shooting or sighting in fire arms they received as gifts.
Army Spc. Zerek Peel, 24, of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, was firing practice rounds from the Glock 27, .40 caliber subcompact handgun he purchased for himself as a Christmas gift from his wife. “I’m planning on getting a concealed handgun license in January,” he said. “I’m from Texas and I think every proud Texas resident should have one.”
The FB I said Black Friday 2013 was sixth in its national list of “Top 10 Highest Days for NICS Firearm Background Checks.”
In Texas, more than 133,000 NICS firearm background checks were initiated in November, according to the FBI. Final numbers for December were unavailable.
To reach Azeita Taylor, the Copperas Cove Herald office at 254-501-7476.