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David, Texas voter, will vote to protect his guns

On November 8, this Texan of Hispanic origin will vote in the midterm elections, and to decide between the candidates, he has one criterion: "firearms".

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David, Texas voter, will vote to protect his guns

On November 8, this Texan of Hispanic origin will vote in the midterm elections, and to decide between the candidates, he has one criterion: "firearms".

Long uninterested in politics, David Blanco did not vote. Things changed when politicians "started threatening the Second Amendment to the Constitution," which guarantees the right to bear arms, he said, citing in particular proposals to ban certain semi-automatic rifles.

At that time, "I said to myself, you know what, maybe I should get involved", told AFP this 33-year-old bearded man, long hair and dark look.

David Blanco now scrutinizes the past of the candidates, watching for any questioning of this right which is dear to him.

The choice is not so simple. “Some Republicans and conservatives are anti-guns,” he says, even if this political camp is traditionally much more flexible on the subject.

In Texas, one of the least restrictive states in this area, the weapon is queen - and any political personality wishing to make a career there has to take this into account.

But in Houston, a Democratic stronghold in a fiercely Republican state, seeing residents walking around armed remains rare.

If David Blanco wants to show his gun, it is to better deter potential aggressors.

He has eight pistols and rifles because "in the event of a problem, we can arm our neighbors", he says. They are also used to practice shooting, his favorite hobby.

- Suicide - 

Urban and of Hispanic origin, David Blanco does not have the classic profile of the American gun owner, generally white and rural.

In 2021, 47% of white adults said they lived in a household with a gun, compared to just 26% of those of Hispanic origin, according to the Pew Research Center.

David Blanco lives with a roommate in a neighborhood where shootings are not uncommon. It is also there that he grew up, raised by a mother of Mexican origin who constantly feared being robbed.

He is always on his guard. As a cyclist passes, he watches, suspecting him of being a burglar on the lookout.

Three events, which occurred in his youth, convinced him to arm himself: a burglary of friends, a shooting in a neighboring house and, finally, Hurricane Ike, which plunged the neighborhood into darkness for several days in 2008.

During nights punctuated by frightening regular gunshots, the family had protected their house from looters with the weapon of their older brother, Humberto, which left a deep mark on David Blanco.

The Texan is however well placed to understand the tragedies that weapons cause.

Two years after Hurricane Ike, he hears his older brother handling his shotgun one day. Frightened, he calls the police, who, on arriving, discover that Humberto has committed suicide.

In the United States, the majority of deaths by firearm are in fact suicides, an argument regularly advanced by those who defend their stricter framework.

But David Blanco doesn't see it that way. "He could have hanged himself," he evacuates.

In May, Texas was bereaved by one of the worst school massacres. A shooter killed 19 children and 2 teachers in the elementary school of Uvalde, using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a weapon regularly used in this type of killing.

"What happened is very sad," says David Blanco.

But condemning the crime is not equivalent, for him, to condemning the weapon. To those who say the average citizen doesn't need an assault rifle to defend themselves, he replies that "there are lots of reasons why you can use an AR-15".

He has two of them, and thinks that this could allow him to respond more quickly to a possible threat.

Words that Greg Abbott, current governor of Texas and candidate for re-election, would probably not deny. Last year, the Republican allowed almost all Texans to carry a gun visibly, without training and without a license.

He is the big favorite against Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who advocates tougher restrictions. After the killing of Uvalde, he stood out by interrupting Greg Abbott during a press conference, reproaching him for his inaction.

But, cautious, Beto O'Rourke says on his site "proud of the long tradition of responsible possession of firearms" of his state.

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