In few places is the dominance of firearms more evident than in [New Braunfels] this Central Texas city of 105,000 about 35 miles northeast of San Antonio. New Braunfels was founded by German immigrants in 1845 at the confluence of the Comal and Guadalupe rivers. Settlers started a schuetzen verein, or shooting club, now among the oldest in the United States.
New Braunfels includes one of the top urban Zip codes in Texas for new handgun licenses per capita last year: About 213 per 10,000 people, according to state records; overall, the surrounding county had 155 permits issued per 10,000 people.
By contrast, most San Francisco-area counties had issued fewer than six concealed handgun licenses per 10,000 residents since 2012, according to the most recent California Department of Justice data from last year, although applications surged late in the year following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against local restrictions in New York, and California lawmakers responded earlier this month by passing a law that further restricts who can receive a permit.
New Braunfels is the seat of Comal County, which then-President Donald Trump won with about 71 percent of the vote in 2020, and where yard signs proclaim “Biden is the wurst” and “We don’t call 911.” But not all gun owners are Republicans or Trump supporters. Some say they’re libertarian, moderate, nonvoters, or liberals who voted for President Biden or lean left on social issues.
[Will] Moravits, a Republican precinct chair, voted for Trump twice and hopes to vote for him again. His Sig Sauer 1911 .45 caliber Texas edition handgun features a lone star emblazoned on the grip and the state outline engraved on the slide. Gun brand loyalties here are akin to affection for pickups: some favor Sig Sauer, others are Glock or “Colt for life.”
Moravits replaced his AR-15 with an AR-10, which fires larger ammunition, but still wears AR-15 “Come and Take It” t-shirts. His Ford Explorer has a sticker on the back with the word “Love” spelled out in weapons. The “L” is a handgun. The “E” is an AR.
Guns are so commonplace that they can slip Texans’ minds. Sitting at Moravits’s ranch house on the city’s historically Latino west side, Hector Rosales, Moravits’s brother-in-law, at first said he wasn’t a gun owner. Then he thought again.
“I do have a handgun — I forgot!” he said, later extracting a .22 Beretta in a zippered bag from a cabinet in his bedroom. Rosales, 59, a spice distributor and nonvoter, also has an old rifle, a .223 Remington. He said his parents, longtime Democrats, have two.
— Molly Hennessy-Fiske in In Texas, Guns Are Everywhere, Whether Concealed or in the Open