In booth number 4839 of the annual convention of the National Rifle Association (NRA) there is no trace of Daniel Defense. The gun company, which has sparked controversy in the past for using children in its advertising, canceled his appearance at the country’s largest gun show. Days earlier, Salvador Ramos, 18, used one of his products, an AR-15 automatic rifle priced at $1,800, to murder 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in the town of Uvalde, Texas. . The massacre, which occurred 400 kilometers away from the fair, has once again stirred up the debate on gun control in the United States. Daniel Defense’s gesture is barely noticeable in this ocean of artillery, where a single message is replicated: the guns are not to blame.
“Tragedies like this week’s are a mirror that forces us to ask ourselves questions about where our culture is failing,” Senator Ted Cruz said Friday. The state he represents, Texas, the second most populous in the country, has recorded four of the massacres with the most deaths in the US. Homicides have increased 90% in the last decade, while the population has grown 15% in the same period. The State Government has been making the possession of weapons easier for several years with legislation that is endorsed by the president of the ANR, Wayne Lapierre. Legislator Cruz, one of the most applauded in the convention, described the Uvalde massacre as an act of evil and used the conservative platform to propose increased security in schools. Among these, that there is a single entrance and exit door for children. Minutes after Cruz, Donald Trump took the witness to insist on the same proposals.
“It’s ridiculous. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. What happens if there is a fire?” said Laura Holt, a mother of two children, ages 6 and 8. The woman went to downtown Houston on Saturday to protest the presence of the NRA in her city. “We should not have an armed guard at the gate of our children’s school. It is time to address the real causes that provoke this violence,” she added.
Stepping foot inside the convention center this weekend means entering a universe difficult to understand for those who do not live in the United States: 60,000 square meters of exhibition of lethal devices in a nation that has more weapons than inhabitants. Entire families, mostly white, visit the huge booths of Smith & Wesson, Colt or Winchester to pick up semi-automatic rifles or check the lightness of the weapons. There are 16 million such weapons in the country, which are promoted as “modern hunting rifles.” Patrice Mobile, who was also protesting against the lobby weapons, displayed a banner: “You don’t need an AR-15 to kill Bambi.”
In the same corridor where the Daniel Defense company stand was supposed to be located, Ghost Gunner is promoted, a small company that sells an aluminum bar and a machine that processes it into different pieces with which it ends up assembling an AR-15 rifle of military use. They promise that the assembly is simple: “In a few hours, without experience in necessary machinery and in the privacy of your home”. The price is less than 800 dollars. This Saturday, three employees gave the curious a patch that said: “Come get them”, a hostile invitation to the Government of President Joe Biden, which it has been proposed to ban this type of weapon, which is called ghost Guns, because as they lack serial numbers, their tracking is very complicated. Ghost Gunner vendors have turned the Biden Administration’s intent on regulating those ghost guns in a marketing strategy: they try to convince the undecided by stating that they will be banned this year.
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Bulk mufflers and bushings are sold at the fair. Also ankle holsters, revolver handles are personalized and taxidermists are promoted, who can embalm bears and other game animals. The American flag and its colors are present everywhere. As are continual references to the founding fathers, who with the Second Amendment, just 27 words written at the end of the 18th century, made this arms frenzy possible. This constitutional section, at its start, speaks of “a well-regulated militia.”
Precisely, any type of regulation is what many members of the ANR oppose. “We have the right to defend our homes and our families. It’s in the Constitution,” says Dustin, a 23-year-old from Alabama. His proposal is that the government only remove weapons from people who don’t need them: “The criminals and the insane.” The man identifies as conservative and anti-abortion. He wears a T-shirt that reads: “Mean Tweets 2024 ″ (Evil Tweets 2024), a nod in favor of a new Trump presidential campaign in two years. In fact, 60% of Republicans oppose magazines only holding 10 bullets. They also reject the creation of a single federal database that tracks purchases in state armories, and reject the ban on assault weapons, the favorite tool of murderers, since it is the one used by the vast majority. of mass shootings.
Assault rifles were banned in the United States for a decade, between 1994 and 2004. During that time, you were 70% less likely to die in a public shooting, according to Giffords, a thinktank in favor of regulation. Only two of the ten massacres with the most victims occurred before that veto. Still, in a sign of growing polarization on the issue, this veto was criticized by Senator Cruz. “The Department of Justice studied this rule and said that it has zero statistical effect,” said the legislator, who has received $440,000. [unos 409.800 euros] in donations from lobby of the weapons. “Democratic solutions cannot stop these massacres. And they know it. Their real goal is to disarm the United States,” he added.
The National Rifle Association, which claims 4.9 million members, has been a major Republican ally. In the 2020 presidential campaign, he donated $600,000 to politicians from this party while only giving $10,000 to Democrats. Some of the stars of the party came on Friday to give their support to the organization, which has been in low hours since 2020, when the New York government took it to court for a tax evasion of 64 million dollars. This election year he has only donated $141,000. All Republicans.
Republican Kristi Noem, Governor of South Dakota, was the only woman among the speakers on Friday, a day that closed with the words of Donald Trump. Originally from a state where hunting and outdoor activities are very popular, politics has become an example for lovers of weapons. In the coming months, she said, her Administration will cover the costs of the background check required by federal procedures: “It will not cost a penny to exercise the right to have weapons.” He also promoted legislation so that a gun is only considered loaded when it has a bullet in the chamber.
“Why is it okay for some to have weapons and others not? Why do we protect banks, our stores, celebrities, but not our children? Aren’t they really our greatest treasure, much more valuable than material things?” the governor asked aloud. From the public they responded: “More weapons!”, “Arm the teachers!”. Noem began, like all speakers, with condolences to the Uvalde victims. By the end of his speech, however, there was already a battle cry in his voice: “This is not the time to give in to culture. woke up”, [despierto en inglés, un adjetivo que usan los conservadores para criticar posturas progresistas]. He also called on members of the organization to remain vigilant against the left that, “like Marx and Lenin, seek changes sometimes even in 100 years.”
Despite the terrible massacre of Uvalde, a couple of booths of the gigantic convention were directed to the minors. One is that of eddie eagle, animated character created by the National Rifle Association. The cartoon, a bald eagle, the iconic American species, plays with other birds in the park. The group finds there a backpack with a revolver inside. “Stop, don’t touch her, go and tell an adult,” reads the drawing. In the booth, George, an older man with white hair, hands out pamphlets dedicated to children of different ages (preschool and early elementary school). He hands them over with a wide smile and a red cap bearing the message: “Make America Great Again”.
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