In April 2020, Jon Ferns opened Gr8 Guns in Sugar Land because he said he “hated the gun industry.” According to Ferns, most gun dealers have predatory practices, and he wanted to change that.

“My objective here is ... to educate people and get them the right things for the right price,” he said.

Ferns, a retired U.S. Army sergeant, said Gr8 Guns is not his main income but a way for him to arm residents without taking advantage of them.

“I don’t need guns,” he said. “I used guns, and I didn’t like it, but I also said, ‘If I ever thought they were going to impede the Second Amendment, I was going to buy as many guns as I could.’”

Ferns said he got into the gun industry in 2008, when he was concerned the Second Amendment might be in danger.

“I went out and bought a lot of guns, and the more I bought, the more I figured out I was getting ripped off,” he said. “I started this [store] because I hate gun dealers.”

Gun dealers, he said, are often selling mass-produced guns that are overpriced or custom-built guns, which he called “Franken-guns,” after Frankenstein’s Monster.

“‘[Custom-built guns are] on sale for one of three reasons: One, it doesn’t work and you can’t test it because you’re at a gun show; two, it didn’t come out the way they’d hoped, and they didn’t like it, so you’re not gonna like it—but they’re not gonna tell you why because they’re trying to sell a piece of junk; or three, they’re thinking, ‘I’m gonna make a killing with my homemade Franken-gun when I find a sucker.’”

According to Ferns, all gun purchases require a background check—which takes as little as 15 minutes. Fern said he likes helping customers buy their first firearm and he only recommends brands he trusts, such as Texas Shooter Supply, F-1 and Radical Firearms.

“Small-batch manufacturers make guns to a much higher standard,” he said. “I’ve already thoroughly investigated those three brands. ... Those are very good examples of a small-batch manufacturer.”

Ferns said he does not try to sell his customers the most expensive firearm; instead, he wants to sell them the gun best suited for their specific needs.

“Once somebody has been educated here about AR-15s, they don’t buy an AR-15 from anyone else,” Fern said. “Most gun dealers start you off with the most expensive gun and work down to your tolerance—but I start with the least expensive gun, working up to your needs.”