The manufacturer of an AR-15-style assault rifle Salvador Ramos used to kill 19 kids and two teachers has been slammed for posting an online ad featuring a toddler clutching a similar weapon just days before the massacre.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” Daniel Defense wrote in the ad shared on Twitter on May 16, eight days before the slaughter at Robb Elementary School.
The line refers to a proverb in the Bible.
In the attached photo, a boy wearing a T-shirt that reads #Rascal is seen sitting cross-legged looking down at the scoped firearm with a full magazine lying in front of him. An adult’s finger is pointing at the child.
The ad was posted on the same day Ramos turned 18.
In the next couple of days, he legally bought two assault rifles, including a Daniel Defense DDM4 V7, which the Georgia-based company touts as “a perfect rifle for everybody.” The other rifle was reportedly a Smith & Wesson M&P 15.
On the day of the massacre, the Washington Post reported, the company – presumably unaware of the mass shooting – posted, “Do you run a DDM4 V7?”
The company protected its tweets from public view after the attack in Uvalde, but screenshots of the ad have been circulating online and drawing condemnation.
“This is an ad put out by Daniel Defense, put out just one week before the horror in Uvalde this week. The shooter’s gun was a DD. Are they marketing to children,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Thinking about this tweet from Daniel Defense – the company who sold the shooter the rifle, and all the pics of R leaders with their little children holding guns,” another Twitter user said in response to the ad.
In a statement about the attack in Uvalde, Daniel Defense said: “We will keep the families of the victims and the entire Uvalde community in our thoughts and our prayers,” according to the Washington Post.
The company’s ad campaign represents the kind of provocative marketing that has helped it become one the largest privately owned firearms manufacturers in the US, NBC News reported.
“In an industry with 500 companies all making the same products, you have to get ahead somehow,” Ryan Busse, author of the book “Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America,” told the network.
Busse, a senior adviser for the gun violence prevention group Giffords, assailed Daniel Defense founder Marty Daniel’s “incendiary marketing.”
“This is how he has grown his business by being on the edge and wrapping this holy roller thing around it,” he told NBC News.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Daniel Defense told CNN that the company will not take part in this weekend’s NRA meeting in Houston.
“Daniel Defense is not attending the National Rifle Association (“NRA”) meeting due to the horrifying tragedy in Uvalde, Texas where one of our products was criminally misused,” Steve Reed told the network.
“We believe this week is not the appropriate time to be promoting our products in Texas at the NRA meeting,” he added.
Daniel Defense said it will cooperate with “all federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities in their investigations.
“We will keep the families of the victims and the entire Uvalde community in our thoughts and our prayers,” it added in a statement.
The Post has reached out to Daniel Defense for comment.