BEATRICE - A gun store in southeast Nebraska is finding widespread success under new owner Steve Swarthout.

R&B Arms in Beatrice was originally purchased by Swarthout for extra space for his Twin Rivers car dealership, but he’s opened the store and expanded it into a booming business after the COVID-19 Pandemic did a number on other gun stores in the area.

“It kind of shut them down,” Swarthout said. “I think the public was lost without having a place to come look at guns and have a local dealer. We’ve been really well received by the locals, but now we’re starting to pull people from Lincoln, Kansas, kind of all over.”

Nationwide debates are taking place about gun rights across the country. Swarhtout says despite that, he runs his gun store off his passion for firearms and the belief that safe gun practice should be a top priority.

“Some people love art work… I love a nice brown wooden Browning shot gun,” Swarthout said. “I could sit there for two hours and stare at it… I don’t even need to shoot it. That’s my God given right. I hate to say it, but it’s not the gun that kills, it’s the people.”

Swarthout runs the gun shop with a heavy heart. He opened the shop in honor of his late son Drae, a veteran who took his own life as a result of PTSD.

“I always wanted to have a gun shop for my retirement.. Something to do,” Swarthout said. “I can hear my boy saying ‘Dad, you don’t know how to not work, you’re going to own a gun shop’, so in a nutshell, I did it in honor of him.”

Swarhtout knows, in his heart, Drae is looking down with a smile.

“My son would love this. That’s what it’s all about,” Swarthout said. “This is something he and I loved to do, on a snowy day, I see a father and son, or father daughters come in here, which is really cool. No matter what they want to do, if they want to do hunting or skeet shooting. It just warms my heart to see someone come in with their child, same thing I used to do with my son.”