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Border Patrol Teaches Kids to Fire at Immigrants

Border Patrol Teaches Kids to Fire at Immigrants

The San Diego Memorial Fallen Agents 5k Run last June was just your average family-friendly Border Patrol event — a race, live demonstrations, and, of course, teaching children to fire guns at targets dressed to look like immigrants. Nothing to see here! In fact, the event was so unremarkable that the San Diego Border Patrol Sector didn’t hesitate to put pictures of the event online. It took immigrant rights groups months to find them (an anonymous tip turned out to be the key), but once they did, they were furious. Now, the Border Patrol is under the gun from critics concerned about the human rights implications involved in their decision to teach children to fire weapons at other human beings.

In the images, children are posed with Border Patrol agents showing them correct shooting stances as they work with guns designed to shoot a “baby powder-like substance” (so that hits can be clearly seen). Their target? Not a conventional bullseye or silhouette, but a figure dressed in loose jeans and a tee-shirt, an outfit commonly seen on working immigrants throughout the United States — including those who have been shot with live rounds within spitting distance of where the demonstration was taking place.

Pedro Rios, an immigration rights activist, told NBC San Diego that: “Had they had a bulls-eye, had they had some sort of silhouette that’s used in shooting ranges, I think it probably would’ve not had been such a huge issue.” He zeroed in on what’s bothering many people who have seen the images: immigration rights advocates and organizations say the images clearly depict children being taught to fire at immigrants. Border Patrol agents have fired back, saying the demonstration was intended to show how it’s possible to resolve conflicts without use of force, and claiming the target is a standard design found throughout the country. Which side is right?

What is clear is that the Border Patrol in general is under very close scrutiny at the moment due to immigrant deaths, injuries and abuses at the hands of Border Patrol agents. Some have accused the agency of being “out of control” at the US/Mexico border, and express grave concerns about the health and welfare of immigrants in encounters with Border Patrol agents. The agency, for example, still uses deadly force against rock throwers near the fence separating the US from Mexico, in a rather outsized response to rebellion. The image of young children aiming guns at a human-like figure who looks very much like an immigrant is, in this context, rather chilling, no matter what the Border Patrol claims it intended to do with the exercise.

For that matter, the image of children holding guns in general is very chilling. In a nation where school shootings appear to be on the rise, with more horrible events being reported in the media on a regular basis, the thought of teaching children to handle guns is troubling. While it’s sensible to teach minors how to be responsible around guns, working with extremely young children in a context where you are encouraging them to shoot at a human-shaped figure is disturbing, given how many young children are shooting real live human beings. Does the Border Patrol really want to simultaneously give itself more bad press for its anti-immigrant sentiments and compound it with images of officers teaching little boys and girls to fire guns?

At the very least, the incident was highly insensitive, showing a lack of awareness and respect for ongoing social and cultural issues in the United States.


Photo credit: Still from NBC San Diego.

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1:05AM PST on Feb 18, 2014

Dianne T's comment is perfect.

Shame on us for this America! People go insane when vegan parents raise their children to be vegan also, but hand them a gun, teach them how to shoot and kill... that's just fine!

11:04PM PST on Feb 13, 2014

Wanda what you are saying is that the others here are wrong in their opinion because they are "Uninformed on firearms"? One thing myself and anyone who disagrees with your "facts" can agree on is that dead is dead.....just because that retired "Officer" could carry a gun, didn't mean he had to......Wanda, you can tell all here about your rights, and your knowledge of guns and your love of guns but at the end of the day, common sense MUST prevail and you have to stop making excuses for senseless deaths....You have the right to have as many guns as you think you need to feel safe and I have the right to disagree and not be afraid that any of my friends or family will get killed in a theatre or a gas station....

10:53PM PST on Feb 13, 2014

Mary B. The point of the Movie shooting is that it was not any local laws that gave Reeves his Right to Carry a Firearm, actually it is a US Federal Government law that states all retired law enforcement officers in the US are given a lifetime Licence to conceal carry a firearm automatically because of their extensive training and public service. That is what makes this case so interesting as this was in a literal sense not a 'civilians nerve jerking, gun toting, gun nut reaction' like many love to call it but 'A retired Police Captain with 30 years experience reaction'.
It is very hard for me to even try to judge Reeves, and to argue 'the gun should not be there' is to argue 'US Federal Law giving Retired police officers perminant concealed carry licenses' will only result in movie theater shootings.

See it is not so black and white as you want to make it look. And if it seems to you that I 'Try too hard to justify', well I am not trying to hard I simply read comments from 50 people who are completely uninformed on firearms and make up comments that are false and I just correct the false statements with facts providded by the CDC, FBI, ATF and NATO. But that is the point, those like you hate facts and then try via insults and name calling to 'discredit' anyone who provides them, you now claim I try to hard, what next? I repeat the same old stuff? Yes, because facts are not gossip points, they tend to stay solid.

10:40PM PST on Feb 13, 2014

9:17PM PST on Feb 13, 2014

Wanda B.... about the movie theatre incident....I have seen the security footage too and it does look like the younger man who was sitting in front of the shooter, perhaps threw something at the man after being asked to turn off his cell phone....I don't know if it was a drink or popcorn.....Now do you think if there hadn't been a gun in this mix both men would be alive today?.... I do.....the victim was with his wife and I think I heard that the shooter had already alerted the management of the theatre......If every skirmish is settled with a gun, there won't be too many folks left will there

9:07PM PST on Feb 13, 2014

Wanda B......Maybe you should watch Piers Morgan's show from tonight on CNN... It was all about "Guns" and the folks killed in their wake......I understand that there have been (I think they said 44)US school shootings since Sandy Hook.....there was a couple on speaking about background checks and how the majority of US citizens wanted and agreed with this being done ( there was also mention of this couple in connection with the Brady bill).....but as you say so maturely, I never do my research)...The MOST important thing I heard from the woman was "They care more about their guns than they do human lives".......
I don't accept your stats because it is like you are trying too hard to justify your guns.....In my country it isn't an issue that consumes anyones life like it seems to with you......
The right to feel safe and the right to happiness are one and the same in my opinion.....
I have no idea or control over what anyone else posts here but it seems in one way or another the majority think what this article is about is STILL a very insensitive issue.....

8:47PM PST on Feb 13, 2014

“Your immaturity seems to be that you can't envision a US without everyone packing a gun.. It must bug you no end that I don't cave to your ridiculous stats but actually read what your fellow Americans say on threads like this”
No, that is you with your constantly judging me every 5 minutes getting my joking nature in response to your badgering. The funny thing is you keep throwing my age in my face as if that made you correct but at the same time you show over and over again, like above, that you don’t bother to investigate and educate yourself on the facts of the topic, all you do is judge and throw age difference, and pat yourself on the back because others here saw something on the news and are afraid of something now as if it made your complete lack of investigation justifiable. You believe being ignorant is being correct, you stated it clearly above. I don’t like to be ignorant, I actually like to be informed, and again this is where we differ. You will never accept stats because they disrupt your fantasy with reality.

8:47PM PST on Feb 13, 2014

Mary B, “Don't they have a right to feel safe in that same movie theatre or gas station ?”
This is going to sound cold to you but this where you and I differ greatly. You see this question you asked I know is extremely emotionally charged but it is a question that can be answered on pure emotionless facts. NO, no one has ‘The Right To Feel Safe’ but they have the Right to pursue Happiness. There is a reason in not having a Right to feel safe, because ‘The Right to Feel Safe’ argument was used throughout our history to justify segregation. Also, that last movie theater shooting in Florida with the retired police officer is a very interesting case, as I have always told everyone not to judge based on a news articles limited facts. They just released the un-doctored security camera recordings of the entire incident, I will provide a link below. The video shows that the victim, Chad Oulson, was the actual initial assaulter of the shooter Curtis Reeves Jr. So now it is up to a jury composed of Curtis Reeves peers to find out if he over reacted on the initial assault or not.
I feel he did over-react but then again I still don’t know the complete facts as only the Jury members will be provided the full investigation. Also, I am seeing it from a perspective of a person my age which I know plays a role in this. I am sure if I were 72 years old and a 43 year old man assaulted me, I would not think or react the way I do at my age now.

8:19AM PST on Feb 13, 2014

Wanda B......I will say it to you yet one more time...... I am NOT afraid of guns......I do NOT want you to give up your precious guns (as they seem to be more important to you than human lives).....I don't care if the shooter is Santa or the Easter Bunny with a machine gun....I want to know what you would do about the problem, quit blaming the ones YOU think are responsible, and look at how your fellow man, woman or child relates to this.......Don't they have a right to feel safe in that same movie theatre or gas station ?
Your immaturity seems to be that you can't envision a US without everyone packing a gun....It must bug you no end that I don't cave to your ridiculous stats but actually read what your fellow Americans say on threads like this.....I will also remind you of the topic of THIS article amd say that most think the actions taken were extremely insensitive even if you whine that it was a "paintball" gun.....It could have been a pea shooter and it was STILL on poor taste.

3:10AM PST on Feb 13, 2014

so they're raising the next generation of xenophobes... how lovely... let's hope none of these kids ever go to another country where peoples' skin happens to be brown as a majority... and let's hope that if they do the people haven't been taught to shoot at Amerikkkans.

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