America is divided. I can’t say it’s never been as divided as it is now because, well, we had a whole civil war that would suggest it might have been a tad more divided back then, but it’s bad enough as it is.
Now, let’s talk about gun owners for a second.
That’s not quite the shift many might think it is, either. After all, a lot of people seem to be coming into gun ownership because they’re afraid of so-called extremists.
At least, that’s what The Guardian reports.
On a crisp Sunday afternoon in Royse City, Texas, 32-year-old Cesar Hurtado unzipped a hardshell case to reveal a custom-built AR-15-style rifle in his living room. Emblazoned on the side of the gun is the tagline “no war, no gods, no masters”.
Hurtado’s interest in firearms started with hunting, but after the 2019 Walmart shooting in El Paso that targeted Latinos, Hurtado felt he had to embrace firearms for his own protection. “For white gun owners, they feel they have a right to a gun,” Hurtado said, “but for Latino gun owners, it’s a matter of survival and safety.”
Today, the Colombian American is a member of the burgeoning Latino Rifle Association (LRA), a self-described progressive organization that sprouted up online during the pandemic to provide self-defense and firearms education to Latinos. Many of the approximately 850 members are worried about the rise of far-right white extremism and an unprecedented wave of mass shootings, while others are looking to connect with gun owners sharing their progressive ideals or Latino identity.
They’re part of a growing group of new gun owners in Texas – a state almost synonymous with loose gun laws and some of the most gun sales in the country.
“Most people wouldn’t bother with firearms if they didn’t think it was necessary – if they didn’t think there were legitimate threats against them,” Hurtado said. “If I never had to worry about being shot, I would never carry.”
It seems safe to say that Hurtado and I disagree on a number of political issues. I’m not a progressive, after all, so it’s not a stretch to assume that he is.
However, it should be noted that most people who carry a firearm for self-defense think there are legitimate threats out there, much like Hurtado does. Many of us just aren’t worried about the exact same kinds of threats.
What happened in El Paso was awful on every level, and it’s pretty clear this was someone motivated by hate–his views were kind of all over the place, but he definitely didn’t like Hispanics–so I get there being some concern.
In fact, I actually respect Hurtado and other Latinos opting to get armed and carry a firearm to meet such threats as they deserve to be met: With lethal force.
Is the threat of extremism as bad as some of these folks think? Based on how the media reports it, probably not. Yet if one is concerned then it just makes sense to take steps to protect yourself.
Becoming a gun owner just makes sense. Even if we disagree on a thousand other things, here we can find agreement, and that’s a beautiful thing.