From right to left: Ryan Moore, Austin Harlan, Christina Harlan.
Editor’s Note: This post was authored by Ryan Moore. Moore is a writer, songwriter and social media strategist. He is @RyanMoore on Twitter and Instagram.
Austin Harlan and his wife, Christina, are in their early thirties and the owners of The Range in Yakima, Washington, an indoor shooting facility that offers firearms for sale, gunsmithing, custom builds and firearm training.
As a former anti-gun liberal myself (my views on firearms gradually changed after I was mugged in San Francisco, and now I’m a Second Amendment advocate and an NRA Life Member), I went to The Range knowing nothing about guns and having not shot one since I was a kid. The Range staff made me feel both comfortable and welcome.
Austin, a lifelong conservative and advocate of the Second Amendment, started shooting pellet guns with his dad when he was just three years old. However, he says he didn’t really have a passion for guns until he was 18 and could own a firearm. During his twenties, he worked in a gun shop and learned the business. And, after seeing a need in his community for a safe place to shoot, a place where families could feel welcome and first-time shooters could get the training they needed, he decided to open The Range with his wife Christina.
Christina is also a lifelong supporter of the Second Amendment, but during college when she attended the University of Washington in Seattle, she was absorbed into the liberal culture and activism. She voted for Barack Obama twice and felt having a black president was a huge triumphant moment for the black community. She said: “Did he get my vote because of that? Sure did!”
After college Christina moved back to her hometown and saw the negative impact of the Obama Administration’s policies. It was then she began to have a conservative mindset. Through her work and interactions with specific population groups, Christina saw first-hand the disparities that were created by the government that enabled permanent dependency. By the summer of 2015, Christina was completely on-board the Trump train and felt it was time to Make America Great Again.
Besides helping out at The Range Christina works with first-time juvenile offenders. She, of course, also enjoys shooting and has a concealed carry permit.
Austin and Christina married in 2013, opening The Range that same year. When they first started dating, Austin told Christina he had this idea on a napkin (literally) to start a gun shop and shooting range and wanted to know if she would be a part of it. She was game.
The two first met in 2011 when Austin worked in a jewelry store and she was a customer. Austin went home and told his dad “I met the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen today, I’m gonna marry her.” But they wouldn’t see each other again for two years when they connected on Facebook. Austin claims Christina Facebook stalked him; Christina says she did not! They dated for about six months, then got engaged and were married just three weeks later.
Austin and Christina both voted for and support President Trump. “He’s not a perfect person, nobody is,” Austin told me. “He cares, though, and he’s trying to do the best he can to bring the country back where it should be.”
Simiarly, Christina said, “He [Trump] made promises that he’s already delivered on and he’s getting the job done and he’s appropriate for the time we’re in.
“He is trying his best to change the country,” she added.
The Range has always had support from the community, and the Harlan’s give back often. Each year, they hold a free BBQ for all local law enforcement personnel, which is open to the public. Law enforcement bring the SWAT command vehicles and their patrol cars down and field questions from the public. While the event is free for attendees, the police select a charity that everyone is able to donate to.
Another event they put on is Shoot Like A Girl, with all funds going to breast cancer charities.
The Range employs NRA certified Range Safety Officers. Austin is a Life Member of the National Rifle Association. Christina told me she is not an NRA member, but promised me she would immediately join!