The Georgia gun company that manufactures the AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle used in the horrific attack at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, posted a disturbing Twitter ad featuring a young boy holding a similar type of weapon.
The ad by the Daniel Defense gun company, one of the largest private gun-makers in America, featured a child holding a huge scoped firearm in his lap with an ammunition clip in front of him. An adult’s hand with a finger pointing at the boy appeared in the foreground.
The photo was accompanied by the Bible verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
The ad ran just eight days before a mass shooter killed 19 children and two teachers with one of the company’s guns.
Daniel Defense quickly blocked the public from its Twitter account after the mass shooting on Tuesday, and the ad was reportedly pulled. It can still be seen on screenshots and archives captured by The Wayback Machine.
The tweet was posted the day the mass shooter in Uvalde turned 18. Within days, he legally purchased the Daniel Defense DDM4 V7, which is similar to the weapon featured in the advertisement. The company touts it as the “perfect rifle for everybody.” Ramos’ second purchase was reportedly a Smith & Wesson M&P 15, but he only brought the DDM4 into the school, according to police.
Though particularly appalling, the ad is only the latest example of the company’s incendiary gun ads often linked to the Bible or religion.
“This is how [company founder Marty Daniel] has grown his business: By being on the edge and wrapping this holy roller thing around it,” Ryan Busse, a former firearms executive and now senior adviser for the gun violence prevention group Giffords, told NBC News.
HuffPost could not immediately reach Daniel Defense for comment about the ad. But the company has posted a statement about the Uvalde tragedy, stating: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic events in Texas this week. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and community devastated by this evil act.”
The company backed out of plans to attend the National Rifle Association convention in Houston on Friday and to operate an exhibitor’s booth there.
“We believe this week is not the appropriate time to be promoting our products in Texas at the NRA meeting,” a spokesperson told NBC.
Company owners Marty Daniel and Cindy Daniel are major contributors to the GOP and gave more than $90,000 to conservative PACs and Republicans at the federal level during the current election cycle.
Last year, the company gave $100,000 to a PAC supporting incumbent Republican senators in Georgia.
The money flows both ways. During the Trump administration, Daniel Defense collected $3.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program funds. Under the terms of the program, the entire loan was forgiven.
The massacre in Uvalde is likely to drive up gun sales — and profits — because gun lovers tend to fear gun restrictions after mass shootings and stock up before laws change.
Daniel told Forbes after the 2017 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that the “horrible event” in which a shooter killed 20 children and six teachers “drove a lot of sales.”
Daniel Defense firearms are also linked to the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Four of the company’s semi-automatic rifles were found in the hotel room of the gunman who fatally shot 60 people at a 2017 Las Vegas music festival from the window of his suite.
Daniel told Forbes his company raked in $73 million in sales in 2016 and that business has increased ever since. A few of the company’s gun ads can be seen below.