NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (KXAN) - At Hill Country Rifle Co., business couldn't be better. Since 1996, a two-man operation has turned into 13.
"We're going to be busy, if we're doing good work," said Matt Bettersworth, the company's general manager. "Every year since we started, we've beat the previous year's sales. So it's been on a good trajectory from the get-go."
Bettersworth has watched the New Braunfels company grow from the ground up. Some 1,500 rifles a year go through this place. All are custom made, some with Old World craftsmanship.
"This is what we call our American Classic rifle," he said holding up a walnut-stock rifle with metal seal of Texas fastened to its grip cap. "It's our highest-end product."
Some guns - like the American Classic - take two years of precision to finish up.
Texas tradition runs deep in the gun industry. In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives listed around 150 gun makers in the state. Some are one-person operations, others much larger.
Now, Gov.Rick Perry wants to bring more companies to the state. As some states pass firearms restrictions, his office says Texas is laying down the welcome mat.
"We want to invite you," he told a crowd at the National Rifle Association annual convention in Houston last week. "If you're not already here, you consider coming to the place that still loves freedom."
Whether it's promoting business incentives at the NRA convention or sending letters to around 30 firearms companies across the country, Perry wants companies to relocate here.
"I think competition is good, whether you're in weapons manufacturing, whether you're in automobile manufacturing or whatever it might be," he said, regarding existing companies in Texas. "Competition may be uncomfortable, but it will make you better."
Competition aside, Bettersworth agreed there are a few other benefits of bringing more gun companies to Texas. He said qualified gunsmiths are hard to find. This could mean a bigger pool and possibly more trade programs to train future workers.
Perry and some lawmakers are seeing success in their efforts to attract gun makers. Colt Competition is relocating from Connecticut. Shield Tactical held its grand opening last week in Shiner. And Tracking Point soon will open in Pflugerville.
Bettersworth said his shop cannot handle much more work, but he does not want to lose any either.
"As long as the quality's there," he said, "the rest will take care of itself."
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County non-profit Center for Child Protection will benefit next March from an all day fundraiser at the Circuit of the Americas that will see plenty of donors racing on the track.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.