On a Memorial Day weekend, as we honor those who died in the service of our country, the company that made a weapon of war used to kill 19 children and two adults at a Texas elementary school had planned to to trade on the annual collective of the arms industry disgrace.
But in the wake of Tuesday’s massacre in Uvalde, Daniel Defense is no longer scheduled to join all the other profiteers of violent death at this weekend’s NRA convention in Houston.
Until Wednesday afternoon, the company is said to have occupied booth 4839, conveniently located near the cafe at the George R. Brown Convention Center, amid what the NRA calls “14 acres of weapons and equipment.”
“GIVEAWAYS, DEMOS, CELEBRITIES & MORE!” Daniel Defense had promised it online.
The items on display are said to be the DDM4 V7 rifle, the model used to such horrific effect at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
“A perfect rifle for everyone,” says a promotional video by Daniel Defense.
It appears from the exhibitors’ booth that booth 4839 has been taken over by the NRA itself. Offerings there now include: “Membership programs and services, commission-based dealer programs, manufacturer programs, legislative initiatives and awareness, firearms training, education and safety programs, NRA Advancement, Foundation, Friends of NRA, and NRA Publications.”
Daniel Defense can still take advantage of Tuesday’s horror. The company reported that the 2012 massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut boosted sales to people fearing an assault weapons ban.
Now costing $100 million a year, the company was founded by 59-year-old Marty Daniel of Georgia. He started making garage doors after dropping out of Georgia Southern University twice before finally graduating. A company history on his website suggests he might not have gone up in arms had he been a better golfer.
“Daniel Defense started because Marty’s golf game was not good. He spent most of his free time relaxing on the golf course, until the day a friend invited him to shoot his AR,” the story says. never experienced before, Marty would buy his first AR the same year.”
That was in 1999. Ten years later he made his first weapon. It was the DDM4 V1. The M4 indicates a relationship with the military M4 that Colt produced for the US armed forces. Daniel joined Bushmaster and Smith & Wesson and other companies in selling variations of a weapon of war to civilians.
“FREEDOM. PASSION. PRECISION,” was his trademark advertising mantra.
He soon did well enough to film a commercial he hoped to air during the 2014 Super Bowl. It featured a fictional former Marine watching their baby at home with his wife.
“My family’s safety is my top priority,” says one narrator. “I am responsible for their protection and no one has the right to tell me how to defend them. So I chose the most effective tool for the job… Daniel Defense†
The NFL found the ad inappropriate and never aired. Daniel Defense went on to create other variants and went uncensored when it tweeted a photo of a youngster cradling a semi-automatic rifle while sitting on a carpet.
“Teach a child the way he should go and when he is old he will not deviate from it,” the caption read.
The tweet was posted on May 16, which happened to be Salvador Ramos’ 18th birthday. He was three years too young to buy a beer in Texas, but old enough to buy two AR-15 assault rifles in two days. Along with 375 rounds of 5.56 ammunition. One of the weapons was a DDM4 V7.
A receipt for the online purchase posted to an Instagram account associated with Ramos shows that the price was $1,870, plus $154.28 sales tax, for a total of $2,024.28. Ramos also posted a photo of his two guns.
“My gun photos,” he wrote in a message to a young woman he met online.
He might as well have said “dick pic.” You don’t need a psychiatrist to predict the appeal of these weapons to hopelessly insecure young men who long to be alpha right away.
Ramos left the other rifle in his grandmother’s pickup truck as he drove to school late Tuesday morning. The DDM4 V7 was his weapon of choice when he stormed in to shoot children.
The local school district has many safety protocols in place and has its own police department. One of his agents confronted Ramos and two of Uvalde’s agents responded shortly after.
But none of that was immediately an effective defense against the Daniel Defense product. The firepower of the weapon allowed Ramos to kill 21 people, including a teacher who was married to one of the school district officers. Ramos had at least seven magazines with 30 rounds each and continued to fire until he was killed by a heroic US Border Patrol agent.
Of course, the slaughter of 19 youths wasn’t going to stop the NRA from going ahead with its convention. Former President Trump and Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced they would still address the meeting.
Anyone who called Daniel Defense’s main number on Wednesday was told no one was available and had to call back. Marty Daniel was unreachable. The Daniel Defense Twitter account was limited to approved followers and a request for approval by this reporter remained “pending”.
But in the early evening, the company responded to a message left with the owner’s wife, Cindy Daniel.
“Sad day, that’s for sure,” said spokesman Steve Reed.
A short time later, a company statement arrived by email.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic events in Texas this week. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and communities devastated by this evil act. As reported in Governor Abbott’s press conference, we understand that the firearm used in the attack was manufactured by Daniel Defense. We will cooperate with all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in their investigations. We will keep the families of the victims and the entire Uvalde community in our thoughts and prayers.”
Reed did not respond to a question about the company and the NRA convention. But a check of the roster revealed that Daniel Defense will no longer be officially present when the exhibition hall opens on Friday. With or without booth 4839, Daniel Defense continues to be one of the largest profitable suppliers of semi-automatic rifles. The website says it has the DDMP4 V7 in stock.
And families in Uvalde are preparing to bury 19 murdered children.