Daniel Defense: Company that made Uvalde AR-15 used toddlers in gun advert

Daniel Defense guns were also used in 2017 Las Vegas massacre, the worst mass shooting in modern US history

Sravasti Dasgupta
Friday 27 May 2022 09:01 BST

Related: Parents of Texas school shooting victims searching for answers

Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of the rifle used in the mass school shooting in Texas on Tuesday, had used a toddler to advertise a similar weapon just eight days before the incident.

Nineteen children and two adults were killed in Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School after an 18-year-old gunman went on a shooting spree on Tuesday morning.

An advertisement posted by Daniel Defense on 16 May read: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Screenshots of the advertisement, which show a toddler holding a gun, have been widely circulated on social media, triggering outrage.

Daniel Defense’s Twitter account now appears to be protected and can be viewed only by its approved followers.

The Uvalde suspect, identified as Salvador Ramos, reportedly bought two rifles legally just days after his birthday last week. One of the rifles was left in the suspect’s crashed truck, while the other, a Daniel Defense, was found with him in the school. Investigators said the suspect had a handgun, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and high-capacity magazines.

On Tuesday, the suspect first shot his own grandmother, who has survived but is in a critical condition.

He then fled that scene and crashed his car near Robb Elementary School where he launched the bloody rampage that ended when he was killed, apparently shot by police.

After Tuesday’s shootout, Daniel Defense pulled out of a National Rifle Association (NRA) convention scheduled this weekend in Houston.

“Daniel Defense is not attending the National Rifle Association meeting due to the horrifying tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, where one of our products was criminally misused,” the company told AFP. “We believe this week is not the appropriate time to be promoting our products in Texas at the NRA meeting.”

This is not the first time that the company’s weapons have been used in a shooting.

In 2017, a lone gunman opened fire on a concert in Las Vegas, killing 60 people, and injuring more than 500 others, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Four automatic rifles found among the shooter’s arsenal were manufactured by Daniel Defense.

After that shooting, the company had expressed its condolences on its Facebook page: “Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of the Las Vegas incident.”

It posted a similar statement after Tuesday’s shootout. “We are deeply saddened by the tragic events in Texas this week,” it said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and community devastated by this evil act.”

“As reported in Governor Abbott’s press conference, it is our understanding that the firearm used in the attack was manufactured by Daniel Defense. We will cooperate with all federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities in their investigations,” the company said.

“We will keep the families of the victims and the entire Uvalde community in our thoughts and our prayers.”

The company has grown into one of US’s largest privately-held manufacturers of guns and accessories since it was founded by Marty Daniel in Savannah, Georgia, in 2001, according to Forbes.

After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, in which 26 people, including 20 students, were killed in an elementary school, the company’s CEO, Mr Daniel, had claimed that gun control measures announced by politicians drove people to buy more guns.

Mr Daniel had said that his company doesn’t “use those kinds of terrible things to drive sales”, but when “people see politicians start talking about gun control”, they become fearful and “go out and buy guns”.

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