As teens at Carnegie Vanguard High School were rolling up to school this morning, at least some of them likely spotted a trailer advertising free simulation tryouts with guns — inside of the trailer — parked right outside the school.
It seemed, well, a little odd, to say the least.
The trailer was hooked to a pickup truck and parked in a bus zone along Taft Street, next to a school-zone speed-limit sign on the curb directly across from the main entrance of Carnegie Vanguard. A man shooting an AK-47 was shown on the trailer's side, with the promise that you could "[t]est your skills inside the trailer," through simulation technology called Simunition Shoothouse.
The trailer appeared to belong to the Edinburgh-based gun seller and firearms trainer Coyote Arms — but what was it doing at a high school?
The Houston Press contacted the driver, Art Salinas, the general manager of Coyote Firearms, who explained after receiving a couple fiery complaints on social media that this was all a big misunderstanding. He was not parked there for any business or advertising purpose, but said he was just passing through Houston on his way to Huntsville and was staying the night at a friend's house across the street.
He got into town late last night and said he had circled the block three times trying to find better parking, but, having no luck, preferred not to park too far away as he was concerned about thieves possibly trying to break into the trailer or the truck. Across the street from Carnegie, he could keep an eye on the trailer from his friend's balcony. There were no guns inside, he said — only an ATV and a generator.
He woke up to find a citation from HISD police for parking in the bus zone after 6 a.m., and said he immediately went inside the school to apologize to employees.
"It was not a part of any ill will or intention or any advertising purposes whatsoever," he said. "I will tell you, the lady I spoke to made me feel like I had done something very shameful, that I had done something to these kids who had to see my trailer on the way to school, and I don't think that's correct. I think if everybody's so worried about what the kids are seeing, then why don't they write a letter or start a campaign toward Microsoft or Sony for all those violent killing games that they release every six months? Why don't they petition Hollywood to stop making movies with all these weapons?"
He compared the way he was berated for parking outside a school with a trailer promoting guns after the Las Vegas terror event to the way innocent Muslims might be wrongly targeted after a terror event carried out by radical Islamic terrorists.
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Still, Salinas said he gets why some might shake their heads at him, and acknowledged that he shouldn't have done it.
"I was in the wrong for parking there. Perception I can't control, but I do understand that it was bad timing," he said. "I'm not arrogant and I'm not ignorant. I understand what happened in Las Vegas and we 100 percent don't condone that — it is pure evil and ungodliness, and that is not what Coyote Arms is about."
Salinas said he used that very trailer and truck to help with rescues during Hurricane Harvey, and that Coyote Arms often works with law enforcement and various groups to promote gun responsibility through training. He even works with three 4-H youth groups.
HISD spokesman Tracy Clemons confirmed that HISD police cited Salinas for parking in the bus zone after 6 a.m., but he then said the citation has been dropped. Asked why, he said, "We are not saying anything else." After the Press clarified that we were asking because Salinas himself said he didn't know anything about the dismissal, Clemons just said, "okay."