In El Paso, scared Hispanic Americans rush to buy guns

After a gunman killed 22 people and wounded dozens of others, many terrified Texans are buying firearms for the first time

The mural on the side of the gun store proclaims: A Savior is Born. Theres a manger scene below the star of Bethlehem and windows festooned with red, white and blue bunting. And above it all a looming AR-15 assault rifle spewing fire. Yet inside Gun Central on Sunday, barely 24 hours after a terrorist gunman killed 22 people and wounded dozens of others in a local Walmart, the expected white Christian nationalists defending the second amendment were not there. Instead there were terrified El Pasoans, mostly Hispanic, buying firearms for the first time.

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The scene on Sunday at Gun Central, located along Interstate 10 and two miles from where bodies are still being recovered, was more reminiscent of Black Friday than the wake of a national tragedy. People crowded shoulder to shoulder to consult with harried employees, pondering over pistols and assault rifles, banana clips and ammo. Others lined up for their turn inside the stores indoor shooting range. Staccato gunfire thundered behind the thin walls.

Im on high alert, said April Sanchez, a marketing executive who along with her husband was buying her first weapon. I never thought Id carry a gun, but now I want something to defend myself, to defend my fellow El Pasoans. To that end she picked out a 9mm Taurus and her husband a .40 Ruger; their son had purchased his first handgun the previous evening. They sat near a Coke machine with several others awaiting their background checks. Before that day, Sanchez had never even held a gun. Now shes registering for classes that will allow her to legally carry her firearm in public.

This isnt something Im proud of, she added. It makes me sad and angry that Im even here. Im heartbroken, but Im also afraid.

Gun
Gun Central in El Paso. Photograph: Bryan Mealer/The Guardian

Gun stores elsewhere in El Paso also reported being busy. At the Cabelas on Desert Boulevard, an employee who didnt give his name said sales on Saturday and Sunday were very high, many of them first-time purchases. We were also seeing people whod previously owned guns and gotten rid of them, he said, adding that it was right after payday, which is usually hectic anyway. On Sunday an employee at Gun Central said they were too busy to comment; calls on Monday werent answered.

At Gun Central, people waited in line amid displays of red Maga shirts and a sign that said, Jesus Has Risen. Among them were Denzel Oliver and his girlfriend Christabelle Guzman. On Saturday they had been shopping at the Foot Locker next to Walmart, and as they exited the parking lot, a fleet of police cars raced past. We were shopping while people were being killed, Guzman said. After they got home and turned on the news, her boyfriend suggested they look for a gun for her. Turns out they were thinking the same thing.

I just want to give us both some peace of mind, said Oliver, 29, who served in the army and owns his own weapons. I always tell her that El Paso is a bubble. This kind of thing happens elsewhere in the country, but not here. But now, we need to be better prepared.

Knowing is better than not knowing, Guzman adds.

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When asked if buying guns seems a bit extreme, given one random act, Oliver shakes his head. Its random, he says, but its going to change this community forever. He points to the crowds as a pop-pop-pop rings out from the range like a soundtrack for a new reality. Just look, he says, it already has.

Original Article : HERE ;

This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific

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