Another AR-15 left unsecured and easily accessible, another wholly preventable tragedy, and some really striking polling regarding Latinos and gun control that I haven’t seen discussed:
A fifteen-year-old New Mexico Latino teen who later told police he had homicidal and suicidal thoughts grabbed his parents’ assault rifle from their closet and killed his mother, a brother and two sisters under the age of 9, before waiting several hours and then killing his father. Like in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting, the New Mexico teen, Nehemiah Griego, had no history of violence. And like Newtown, Connecticut school shooter Adam Lanza, Nehemiah Griego simply took his parents’ AR-15 assault rifle to kill his own family members.
Polls have shown that a majority of Latinos support gun control legislation. According a Pew Research poll, only 29 percent of Latinos think gun rights are more important than gun control. Another poll found 69 percent of Latinos believe in stronger laws regarding the sale of guns, and nearly nine in ten – 86 percent – believe all gun buyers should have to pass a criminal background check.
In an interview with MSNBC, Texas Democratic Mayor Julián Castro, who advocates for gun control legislation, disputed what he calls the “slippery slope” argument advocated by conservative legislators like Cruz and the NRA. The NRA argues that more gun control restrictions can lead to taking away an individual’s rights to bear arms. Castro said that “paranoia” from the NRA is being countered by those who favor “reasonable gun control restrictions” through a relatively new tool — social media.“What I think is different now is the opportunity to penetrate that culture and get a message out there in a way that is authentic and from the people,” said Castro, who accused his fellow Democrats of having let gun control arguments “atrophy” for many years. ”What you’re going to see is a shifting of public opinion,” said Castro, even in regions with a history of gun ownership.
Castro always appears to have an enormous amount of energy when I’ve seen him on television, and he’ll need it for his social media campaign, because the weapons industry is pouring millions into marketing directed at children:
Threatened by long-term declining participation in shooting sports, the firearms industry has poured millions of dollars into a broad campaign to ensure its future by getting guns into the hands of more, and younger, children.
The industry’s strategies include giving firearms, ammunition and cash to youth groups; weakening state restrictions on hunting by young children; marketing an affordable military-style rifle for “junior shooters” and sponsoring semiautomatic-handgun competitions for youths; and developing a target-shooting video game that promotes brand-name weapons, with links to the Web sites of their makers.
The pages of Junior Shooters, an industry-supported magazine that seeks to get children involved in the recreational use of firearms, once featured a smiling 15-year-old girl clutching a semiautomatic rifle. At the end of an accompanying article that extolled target shooting with a Bushmaster AR-15 – an advertisement elsewhere in the magazine directed readers to a coupon for buying one – the author encouraged youngsters to share the article with a parent.
“Who knows?” it said. “Maybe you’ll find a Bushmaster AR-15 under your tree some frosty Christmas morning!”