Things That Matter

An Armed Trump Supporter Was Lurking Outside A Migrant Shelter With Knife And Gun But Police Let Him Go

Would it surprise you to hear, mere days after the massacre in directed at Latinos, that an armed Trump supporter was briefly detained in front of a migrant community center in El Paso? On the one hand, it’s shocking to hear that someone would be callous enough to pull a stunt like that. On the other hand, with today’s political climate … how surprising is it, really?

So, what happened?

Instagram / @Mind4Mud

Basically, a 21-year-old man drove his pickup from Houston, in anticipation of the President’s visit to El Paso last Wednesday. The man was parked outside the center when police discovered that he was armed with both a gun and a knife, and detained him. Authorities also found that the man had plastered his vehicle with an almost Rambo-like image of Trump carrying a large weapon, in addition to draping a campaign poster for Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the back window. What. A. Scene.

While this scenario clearly raised a few alarms for the local authorities, while the man was briefly detained, he was eventually let go – along with his weaponry. Apparently his justification for carrying the gun and knife was that ‘he has rights.’ And sure, that’s not incorrect. Under the current Texan state law, both concealed and open carry is legally allowed. That being said, there is a caveat to such laws, in that permit is required for carrying a handgun. So, even though the detainee had committed a shocking, and highly inappropriate, act – it wasn’t illegal. Great

Why are we even entertaining the fact that all is fine, simply because it was legal?

Instagram / @fgy_ung

It’s time to be realistic. This happened only a few days after 22 people were shot to death at an El Paso Walmart. Most of the two dozen or so who were injured are still recovering from the attack. Approaching an event that was apparently designed to commemorate the memory of those who died, and honor those living, while armed with a gun and a knife is, at the least, wholly callous and disrespectful. And at the most … well, it could imply something much more sinister at work, with the intention of targeting a very vulnerable community.

Texas has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the country.

Instagram / @nbcnews

The fact that Texas is a state that maintains open and concealed carry laws means that even if the shooter was caught before going on a murdering rampage, there wouldn’t have been much that authorities could have legally done to prevent the shooting. The fact that nothing has been done to reconsider these laws in light of the exponential number of mass shootings – and especially in respect to the El Paso shooting – is even more chilling. Whatever about good guys who can step in with guns, it would make much more sense if the bad guys didn’t have guns to use in the first place.

What about the people of El Paso?

Twitter / @WajahatAli

The other thing to consider is that El Paso is a ripe target for racially-motivated shootings due to its considerable Hispanic population – even with recent increases in security around the area. “The stakes are even higher now,” said Marisa Limon of the Hope Institute in a recent interview. “I don’t want to say that this will never happen again because the conditions are there … it’s open season against Latinos and immigrants.”

Many feel that it’s “open season” against Latinos and immigrants.

Twitter / @raortman

The reality is that, with divisive rhetoric such as ‘go back to where you came from’ coming from the President himself, it is difficult to conceive of ways to stem the tide of online and news media that echoes those same sentiments – and influences people to drive hours to El Paso while armed with a gun. “I want to believe we’ll go back to normal, but I don’t know that we ever will, if you’re Mexican American. We’re all on edge,” said Claudia Olivares, an El Paso local, in an interview this week.

But, it would be too easy to sit back, fold our arms, and say that there’s nothing to be done – or that this toxic environment will inevitably last forever. After all, the beauty of living in a democracy is knowing that an election can change everything. 2020 can’t come soon enough.

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