Transfer Station is a newly opened tattoo/firearms shop in San Antonio that offers gun transfers for less and tattoos while you wait. After being open for about a month, neighbors shared via Facebook that they have many concerns with the tattoo/gun shop—primarily with its location close to an elementary school and a lack of communication between store owners and community members about what would be sold.
Some members of the community Facebook group have shared that they feel it wasn't clearly stated that Transfer Station would sell guns, with one post saying “they completely misled us (I would say...lied to us by omission) If you were at the meeting- they never told us that they will be selling guns two blocks from our Elementary school.” Shop owner, Doug Elkins, says he did nothing wrong.
Elkins hasn’t broken any laws by opening his shop, and there are community members who support his business. Transfer Station offers some of the lowest prices for gun transfers in the area. Gun transfers, for those who don’t know, are the transfer of paperwork that happens when you buy a gun from a person or a non-licensed dealer and must be done by a Federal Firearms Licensee. A middle man, essentially. Normally these transfers can cost $50 and above, much higher than the prices advertised by Transfer Station. Inked spoke to Elkins to get his words on the recent drama with the local community and to see exactly how this shop combo came about.
“(Tattoos and guns) are two of my favorite things: I’ve been shooting since I was 5 or 6 years old,” Elkins said. “We had BB guns back then and I graduated to my granddad’s single-shot .22 soon after. Tattoos came later… in high school when we used to wrap a sewing needle in thread and India ink the shit out of each other (not the best idea).”
Eventually, Elkins met his best friend Carlos—a tattoo artist of 20 years who got Elkins even more interested in tattooing. After a few years of friendship, Carlos got ill and was worried about surviving. This is when Elkins proposed his idea for a combination tattoo and firearms shop, and the two decided to open the shop once Carlos got well. Luckily enough, Carlos got better around the time that Elkins was looking for a retail space for his firearms store.
The community isn’t in total support of the shop, but Elkins says these issues are “based on emotions.” When questioned on the concerns of the close proximity of the shop to a local school, Elkins said “I’m not exactly sure what the issue is because the concern isn’t logical—do they think I’m going to sell a gun to a child? No one can tell me why it’s a bad idea, they just say it is.” Elkins believes that since Transfer Station is strict about following all gun laws and monitoring minors, the community should have no issues over the location of the gun/tattoo store.
“I think some of the people are actually concerned, some are in the moral outrage mob and some may just be in it for political gain,” Elkins said about the complaints he has heard. “According to what was stated online, I lied and misrepresented my store to the neighborhood association, but I never even attended a meeting of theirs. Also, the DHNA is very divided, as several of them are supporting me.”
No one has confronted Elkins in person despite his open invitation—well, besides one person. “The person who started the whole thing is running for (DHNA) president. He actually came into my store a few nights ago, didn’t introduce himself, didn’t look any of us in the face,” Elkins shared. “He just rushed in, said something about guns and left. The next day when I was shown the angry Facebook post and realized it was him, all I could think is that his actions were fucking cowardly.”
The clients are completely normal, according to Elkins, “Some are here just for guns and don’t have tattoos, some are just here for tattoos, but we have had several get tattooed and buy a gun on the same day!” Local artists are also in support of the shop, according to Elkins—and the shop even added a second artist to the tattoo studio.
Elkins is surely standing firm for his beliefs. Ultimately, his goals for Transfer Station are simple, “We’re just in it for the fame and glory, but we’ll settle for food and shelter.”