What’s Happening in Austin Is Why I Became a Gun Owner

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Two years ago, I finally decided to take the plunge. I had been planning on purchasing a firearm at some point, but a variety of factors sped up that decision.

One of the most pressing reasons is rising crime in my city, Austin, Texas.

I was at the Solutionary Summit in Miami, Florida, an event held by my friend Maj Toure, co-founder of Black Guns Matter. After the event, he hosted a firearms training on a yacht, and I made my decision right after. I saw how crime had been on the rise in Austin due to a shortage of police officers and the impact of the “Defund the Police” movement, which kicked off after the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Austin was, and still is, one of the safer cities in America. But during that summer, we experienced record-level homicide and violent crime rates. The problem has not gotten any better, as my colleague Beck Noble reported:

Texas might not be as red as some midwestern states. But former Gov. Rick Perry had a perfect description of Austin, calling it a “blueberry in the tomato soup.” The city has not had a Republican mayor for thirty years, and now Austin residents are feeling the fallout from the defund the police movement. Staff shortages are forcing 911 callers to be put on hold, and the crime rate continues to tick upward. Thomas Villarreal is president of the Austin Police Association. During a recent appearance on "Fox & Friends," he put the blame squarely at the feet of the city council and said that they are "neglecting" local law enforcement. He stated, "We just continue to have a city council that doesn't show its police officers that [it] cares about them."

But Austin's policing problems began long before anyone heard of George Floyd. In 2017, the Austin City Council rejected the police contract for the first time. But in 2018, in typical liberal fashion, the city decided they would do something called "reimagining police oversight." What could go wrong there? Plenty, but police officers were able to get back under contract. Then along came the summer of 2020. In Austin alone, 20 officers were indicted for what Villarreal says was "doing their jobs" during protests following Floyd's death. That was when Austin followed in the footsteps of many other Democrat-run cities and slashed the police budget by $150 million, roughly one-third of the entire budget.

While Austin has not yet reached the levels of crime seen in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., it is clearly a more dangerous place than it was when I moved there from California a smidge over ten years ago. What I realized, along with many other Americans, was that I could not count on local law enforcement to protect me if I found myself in a dangerous situation. So, I purchased my first firearm and made sure I was properly trained on its use.

I’m not alone. I’m joined by millions of other Americans who have become first-time gun owners – especially in the black community. Despite the ongoing push for gun control restrictions, more people are waking up to the reality that the government cannot protect them. This is true even of cities that have adequate levels of policing.

While the left claims that more Americans owning firearms is making the country more dangerous, there are numerous stories of gun owners using their weapons to defend themselves. I’ve covered plenty of them over the past few weeks. The data shows that people are far more likely to use their firearms to defend life and property than they are to victimize someone else.

Fortunately for me, I live in a state that is more friendly to gun owners. As a permitless carry state, it is much easier for Texans to exercise their right to keep and bear arms than it is in gun control bastions like New York and California.

As I’ve written before, things are looking good for gun rights. Pro-Second Amendment advocates are striking down gun laws all over the country. But this goes further than the right to protect oneself. I believe this reflects a growing sentiment that the government is not our savior. I think more people are embracing a healthy distrust of the state, which could eventually bleed over into other areas of life. If we can’t trust the government to protect us from criminals, why should we trust them to take care of us in other areas? Hopefully, there will be even more asking this important question.


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