El Paso Hispanics Flock to Gun Training Classes After Walmart Mass Shooting

By Colin Fredericson

Hispanics in El Paso, Texas are flocking to gun classes after the recent mass shooting at a local Walmart.

Gun Central is one of the largest gun shops in El Paso. The surge in class participants coincides with a rise in the sale of guns.

“I have over 50 for this Saturday class and approximately the same amount for the Sunday class, and I normally have approximately seven,” said Michael McIntyre, general manager of the shop, via Reuters.

The classes are part of the process of getting certified to carry a concealed firearm in Texas.

“We actually had two people buy guns here who were actually in the Walmart on the day of the shooting. The other people are just saying, ‘Hey, you know I want to be able to protect myself in the event of something going on,’” McIntyre added.

That most of the people attending the classes are Hispanic is not a surprise, as 82.8 percent of El Paso residents are Hispanic, according to census data obtained by KFOX14. Police have said that the Walmart shooter was targeting Hispanics, according to Reuters. The NY Post said he told police he was specifically targeting Mexicans.

Thirteen of the victims who died were Americans, eight were Mexicans, and one was German, CNN reported.

Twenty-one-year-old Patrick Crusius told police he was the shooter after he got out of his car at an intersection, the NY Post reported. He was discovered a half-mile from the Walmart, between the residential and shopping area, The Washington Post reported.

Crusius is currently in jail, “in a state of shock and confusion” El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen told The Washington Post.

A Surviving Victim Speaks From His Hospital Bed

When Chris Grant realized Crusius was shooting inside the Walmart, he first ran to shield his mother. His mother usually carries a gun on her, but left it at home on this occasion, thinking she wouldn’t need it.

“My mom, she’s a gun-wielding grandma. She carries a snub-nose Smith & Wesson, .38 special with a built-in scope in it everywhere she goes,” said Grant from his hospital bed, via a CNN video posted by Cuomo Prime Time. “An hour before we went to Walmart she decides ‘Oh we’re just going to Walmart. I’m going to put it in my room.’”

“So when I went to her, no gun. And I was like, ‘Oh my God. You got to be kidding me.’”

Grant said he is an avid shooter, and that his father was in the military. When he saw Crusius, he threw bottles in his direction; he told CNN. When one of the bottles landed near Crusius, Crusius started shooting at him, some of the shots hit him.

Grant said that in the chaos he ran into a Customs and Border Protection officer who he says saved his life. He said the officer patched his wounds and never left his side until she could help get him away safely. He said the CPB officer also didn’t have her gun on her, for the same reasons his mother didn’t have hers.

New Texas Gun Laws

A handful of new laws that ease gun restrictions are set to be in place on Sep. 1. Many of the new regulations are a reaction to earlier shootings, and seek to give residents more rights about when and where they can carry guns.