At Central Texas Gun Works in Austin, Tx., store owner Michael Cargill offers up to four classes a week. Across the U.S., gun sales are high. Ammunition is sold out. Cargill and other retailers are selling more firearms to first-time buyers. Gun retailers estimate that 40 percent of sales in the first four months of 2020 were to first-time buyers compared with an annual average of 24 percent in years past, says the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, about 15.4 million background checks were conducted nationally, more than all of 2019, and quickly approaching the all-time record of 15.7 million checks in 2016, reports Politico.
Cargill is gay, Black and Republican. He has noticed a shift in his clientele this year. Typically, Cargill’s customers are mostly conservative and the people enrolled in his “license to carry” classes are a mix of Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians. Lately, he said, the majority of the students are coming from the left side of the political spectrum. One of them is Noah Horner, who always wanted a gun but the 24-year-old tech company engineer doesn’t consider himself political. He’s planning to vote for Joe Biden. He thinks President Donald Trump has embarrassed the country and mishandled the pandemic. Two others in a recent class, a young couple, described themselves as left-leaning, and they both have cast early ballots for Biden. Class member Zachary Harris, 23, was disconcerted by how some of the people in the course “almost sounded eager” to shoot someone. Cargill dedicated much of the class to discouraging people from drawing their weapons in tense situations.