By Maria E. Molina
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Guns and ammunition going to Mexico from the United States has been fueling a war between drug cartels and law enforcement — a war that left thousands dead last year.
More than 5,000 people were murdered in Mexico last year alone, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and 95 percent of the weapons recovered from those killings were traced back to the U.S. This is because it’s easier to buy guns in the U.S. and smuggle them across the border than it is to get them in Mexico.
Guns are coming to Mexico from all over the U.S. The weapons and ammunition are being bought mostly from licensed dealers. Any adult with a valid ID and no criminal record can buy as many as he or she wants.
Another part of the problem is that the United States does not enforce a ban on importing assault weapons. The ban was implemented under the administrations of President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton, and the U.S. government can enforce it under provisions of the 1968 Gun Control Act. Many such guns are later smuggled south to arm Mexico’s ruthless drug cartels. The guns come to the United States from Europe and other places, and they make their way down to Mexico.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, has quietly abandoned the ban in recent years. The ATF declined to comment. Mexico has long demanded that the U.S. do more to stop the flow of weapons south.
For more information, please see:
NPR – Guns From U.S. Play Key Role In Mexican Violence – 20 February 2009
Forth Worth Star Telegram – U.S. lawmakers want ban on importing assault weapons enforced – 19 February 2009
Associated Press – Lawmakers: US must enforce assault-gun import ban – 18 February 2009