By Marc Campos

!Ay Caramba! Get Out Your
Kevlar Paraguas.

According to this past Saturday's Chron, the National Rifle Association (NRA), at its annual convention in Houston, launched an initiative targeted at the Latino community to make the NRA "Latino friendly". Translation: Let's get more guns into the hands of Latinos.

The NRA's cover, according to their consultant: "We talk about gun safety, the history of the NRA as the oldest civil rights organizations in the U.S. and how the right to bear arms is a civil right". Move over LULAC and MALDEF.

Part of the initiative has the NRA's message in Spanish that includes children "cavorting with the NRA's safety mascot, Eddie Eagle". In a time when it's a struggle to keep Latino children focused on chemistry, Algebra II and government 101, the NRA wants to introduce them to Berreta, Smith and Wesson, and .357s. No thanks.

There are greater priorities in the Latino community like access to health care and achieving a quality education. Latinos, particularly those in the inner cities, need more soccer fields and little league fields, not target ranges.

It's no secret that on New Year's Eve, some Latinos participate in an ugly and illegal practice of firing their pistolas into the sky at the stroke of midnight. It is a tradition that many Latino leaders and law enforcement officials have tried to eliminate. Hey NRA, as part of your Latino "gun safety" initiative, why not give away kevlar umbrellas at the end of the year.

The consultant hired to coordinate the initiative has a political background and according to the Chron, is credited with getting 40% of the Latino vote for GOP Congressman Pete Sessions against defeated Cong. Martin Frost (D), in last year's North Texas general election showdown. Not so. Another Houston based consultant was responsible for the Sessions Latino vote strategy.

"Roids" matter to fans. At the Astros-Braves game last night at Minute Maid Park, in between one of the innings, a contest was conducted on the giant TV screen. Fans were asked to vote by cell phone for their favorite non Astro moment. Choices - Richie Sexton's blast off the center field flagpole, Sammy Sosa's home run off the lights, and Barry Bonds' 70th home run in 2001. Winner was Sexton, followed by Sosa, then Bonds at 15%. The 70th home run was historic. Sexton has not been linked to 'roids, Sosa and Bonds have.

April 19, 2005, 9:00AM

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