Gun sellers expanding their market in El Paso

EL PASO – This border city appears to be growing more gun-friendly as the number of gun dealers has increased by 29 percent in the past three years, according to a Borderzine analysis. The city now has 80 gun dealers compared to 62 in 2013, the analysis of ATF data showed.These figures include large retailers such as Walmart as well as private dealers, but exclude pawnbrokers who sell firearms.

“We have had peaks and valleys,” said Louis Southard, general manager at Sportsman’s Elite, a gun store and shooting range in El Paso, which has been open since January 2013. “In 2008, a little over five years ago, there was a rather large uptake in gun sales.” Tragic events can often drive an increase in gun sales, such as when the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred in December 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty children as well as six members of the school’s staff were fatally shot by a troubled gunman who killed himself after the attack.

San Ignacio de Loyola celebra con su kermes mas de un siglo de apoyo a los más necesitado

EL PASO — San Ignacio Loyola la segunda parroquia católica fundada aquí hace 111 años ubicada en el Segundo Barrio, una de las comunidades más tradicionales de esta ciudad fronteriza, comenzó una serie anual de kermes – ferias para recaudar fondos — hace 20 años para que la parroquia continúe su labor de apoyo a los más necesitados. “La kermes empieza el viernes 31 de julio y termina el dos de agosto con un horario de cinco de la tarde a 12 de la noche, es parte de una tradición y es capaz de unir familias”, dijo Martha Payales, organizadora de esta kermes. El principal motivo de esta fiesta que une a la comunidad de Segundo Barrio es la celebración del santo San Ignacio de Loyola, además de tener como objetivo la recolección de fondos para ayudar con el mantenimiento de la iglesia, ya que tiene varias partes deterioradas por ser originales y tener más de 100 años. La iglesia se ubica en 408 Park St. Pero también con los fondos recaudados ayudan a personas que necesitan sustento económico.

Texas stares down the barrel of ‘open carry’ and ‘campus carry’ debate

I was watching a weightlifting competition in a Juarez gym not too far from my old home near Plaza Juarez Mall in 2009. As I sat near the stairs toward the back of the gym, a young man was struggling to lift an absurd amount of weight when two men who did not seem interested in the competition came in through the back entrance . I remember hearing a loud metal clanging noise like the sound of weights dropping, followed by gun shots. Everything after that is a blur — running up the stairs, finding a place to hide, people screaming. Only one particular detail remains clear, the jet black 9mm handgun in the killer’s fist.

Marfa, TX, a town of about 2,000 people is a hub for contemporary art in the Southwest. (Amber Watts/

Marfa – Tiny Texas town is a vibrant hub for contemporary art in the Southwest

MARFA, TX – An hour’s drive north of Ojinaga, Mexico, sits an isolated “little island of actors, writers, and artists of all kinds” as gallery owner, Ree Willaford, affectionately calls this west Texas town of 2,000 souls. Willaford is the owner, director and curator of Galleri Urbane, with locations here and in Dallas, specializing in contemporary art. In Marfa, the satellite exhibit lounge is located at the Thunderbird Hotel. Willaford and her family started in 1992 with “Contradiction,” an organic juice and coffee shop that also carried non-organic treats like tiramisu in historic Ybor City, the old Hispanic cigar-making district of Tampa, Florida. The Willaford family then moved to Silver City, New Mexico where Ree’s husband Jason, an artist, started open house showings with photographer Michael Burman.

San Elizario’s unique revival gathers local history, gardening and hundreds of artists

SAN ELIZARIO, TX – There’s only one place in El Paso County where a family can see work by hundreds of artists, visit a veteran’s museum, get a homemade empanada at a café, see a live band at a restaurant that’s right next to the jail that once housed Billy the Kid, then walk a few blocks down the street to a community garden. This is the San Elizario Historic district, also known as “San Eli,” home to the only art district in the county, located about 10 miles east of the city limits. “We started this madness out here in 2009 with the Main Street Gallery and things just quickly grew,” said Al Borrego, a self-taught artist who invests most of his time promoting San Elizario and all the artists. “I take pride in my community and I think with the history and talent out here, it’s the perfect place for something like this.”

There are over 100 artists exhibiting their artwork in about 40 galleries, with more venues on the way. The artworks range from traditional acrylic and oil paintings, to iron and woodwork as well as sculptures, stained glass and jewelry.

Texans await decision by federal judges about state’s Voter ID law

By Jim Lamare

A three-judge panel of the Federal District Court of Washington, D.C., heard arguments this month concerning the legality of Texas’ Senate Bill 14, the voter identification law enacted by the Republican-controlled state legislature last year. In March, the U.S. Department of Justice refused to clear the bill under its powers authorized by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Texas appealed that decision to the Washington, D.C., court. SB 14 requires Texans to produce suitable personal identification to vote. “Suitable” is legislatively defined as one of the following photo IDs: a valid Texas driver’s license, an election identification certificate, a U.S. military ID, a U.S. citizenship certificate, a U.S. passport, or a license to carry a concealed handgun.

El Paso, a border city considered by some as part of Mexico. (Raymundo Aguirre/

Learning journalism in El Paso opened my window to the world

EL PASO – Every time I’ve gone on vacation with my friends, people ask us where we are from. The conversation usually goes something like this: “We’re from Texas.” “I love Texas! What part?” “El Paso.” “Oh, so like, Mexico?” Yes, that’s right, at least once in Las Vegas, Chicago, San Diego, and even in Europe, people thought we were basically from Mexico. This used to bother me because I will always pride myself on being a patriotic American citizen; however, I started to see how it would be easy for people outside of Texas to think that El Paso was just this forgotten part of the United States that somehow belonged to Mexico also. If you look at reports about border violence in Mexico, El Paso is almost always mentioned as the sister city to Ciudad Juarez.

Texas’ Hispanic population increases by 2.8 million (42%)

By Patricia Guadalupe, NALEO Director of Communication

Texas experienced exceptional growth since 2000, with the Latino community playing a key role in the record number of new residents added to the Lone Star State, according to an analysis by the NALEO Educational Fund of newly released Census 2010 data. While the state’s overall population grew from 20.9 million to 25.1 million (21%) in the first decade of the 21st century, the Latino share of that population increased 42%, from 6.7 million to 9.5 million. LATINO YOUTH ZOOMED

Latino residents account for nearly two thirds (65%) of the population growth in Texas over the last ten years. “Now more than ever, all eyes are on Texas. Our state is gaining four new congressional seats, and that is largely due to the unprecedented growth of the Latino population,” says NALEO President Sylvia García, former Harris County Commissioner.

Proposed Texas education cuts imperil Latino students’ future

Impending massive budget reductions in flat-broke Texas are about to slam education’s door on its Latino youth, who at 2.34 million now comprise about half of its public school students. Experts and community advocates across the state agree on the danger it portents to the state’s economic future as well. Once among the nation’s wealthiest, the Lone Star State has become the Loan Starved State. It is grappling with a budget shortfall somewhere between $15 billion and $27 billion. The proposed solution by Gov. Rick Perry, with traction offered by conservatives within the GOP-controlled legislature, targets the schools.