U.S. Needs to Stop Flow of Guns Into Mexico, Experts Say

By Matthew Harwood

The United States must do more to stop the flow of assault weapons across the Mexican border, which has militarized the conflict occurring between the government of President Felipe Calderon and rival drug trafficking organizations, two border security experts argued today.

"Since the Calderon administration has taken office, you have around 20,000 homicides that have occurred, many of those from U.S. weapons," said Dr. David Shirk, Director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of California, San Diego, during a conference call on border security arranged by the Immigration Policy Center. "It's really hard to deal honestly with Mexico and say we want you to help us continue this effort but we're not going to stop arming the people that you're fighting by clapping down a little bit more on our own southbound flow of guns."

Shirk noted that there's a tendency to find more higher-powered, assault-like weaponry within the Eastern corridor of Mexico as opposed to Mexico's Baja, California, in the West. While there are various reasons why this variance occurs between East and West Mexico, U.S. state gun laws play a role, Shirk said.  He pointed to the state of California's much stricter gun laws, especially on assault-like weapons, as a reason why Western Mexico is less violent than its Eastern territories. Shirk also said this disparity "speak[s] strongly in favor of the remarks" Calderon made during his visit to the United States at the end of May.

During his address to a joint-session of Congress in May, Calderon urged lawmakers to reinstate the assault weapon ban and argued that the rise in gun violence seen in Mexico began when the ban was lifted in 2004, according to Reuters.

"We have seized 75,000 guns and assault weapons in Mexico over the last three years," Calderon said. "More than 80 percent of those we have been able to trace came from the United States."

(Read more on U.S. efforts to stop gunrunning into Mexico in "American Gun Flow into Mexico Must be Stopped, Lawmakers and Officials Say," from March 2009 and "An 'Iron River of Guns' Flows South" by John Barham from the June 2008 issue of Security Management.)

Jennifer Bernal-Garcia, a researcher at the Center for New American Security, said there are simple things the United States could do to help stymie the flow of guns into Mexico. One is signing the Inter-American Convention Against Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (CIFTA), which was adopted by the Organization of American States in 1997. President Clinton signed the treaty but the Senate chose not to ratify it. CIFTA, Bernal-Garcia said, would make it easier to trace illegally manufactured weapons.

The issue, however, is highly contentious because of the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. In a statement more than a year ago, the National Rifle Association's (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and Chief Lobbyist Chris Cox said in a statement that the anti-gun advocates would use the CIFTA "to attack gun ownership in the U.S. Therefore, the NRA will continue to vigorously oppose any international effort to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding American gun owners."

Shirk believes many Americans stand on common ground when it comes to limiting access to assault weapons. 

"Most Americans don't want to have those kinds of weapons in the hands of Mexican drug traffickers, kids in the schools like Columbine, but there's a very powerful gun lobby that conflates reasonable Second Amendment gun rights... with these high-powered and more dangerous weapons that even many police associations in the United States feel should not be on the streets," Shirk said

But Shirk says the gun lobby overly influences the debate away from good policy.

"Politically it's really tough to get beyond those narrow interests and come up with a measure that's going to pass through Congress," he said. "But Mexicans are literally dying as a result of this iron river of weapons flowing south."

Since the onslaught of violence, the United States has stood in alliance with Calderon's fight against the cartels. Under the Merida Initiative negotiated by the Bush administration, the United States pledged $1.1 billion to Mexico to help the government fight drug cartel violence in between 2008 and 2010. But only a fraction of the aid has been delivered to Mexico, according to a recent investigation by the Associated Press.

♦ Photo of assault weapons by joelogon/Flickr


Though I do agree that guns

Though I do agree that guns are flowing into Mexico from the U.S., it is not fair to say that only we are to be blamed for this! From the GAO, it is very evident that the guns from recovered there has become much less than what it once was and especially when it is an accepted fact that there is less violence in the Mexico’s Baja, California, in the West, where guns laws are a lot more stricter compared to East Mexico, which speaks for itself!!


Unfortunatelly we live in the world where the interests of business defines everything. Everybody knows what sums of money are made on weapon trade. USA weapons are not only in Mexico, but all over the world. Not long ago information about US weapons in Iran appeared. You may check this video

to hear the whole story. Of course, weapons are produced to be used in conflicts and wars but it is different when the wars are continued for the sake of this trade. For example, in one of the revealed documents it was said that the war in Afghanistan was made long on purpose. Can you imagine how selfish mush have been a person who gave such orders.

Gun probem

 Although I'm not an advocate of taking American gun rights away, I am an advocate of common sense. The anti-gun control folks like to game these statisitcs of over 80% of the guns in Mexico are traced back to the U.S. by repeating the silliness that it's not true because. The because is that of all the guns "checked" against records, 80% were found to be from the U.S.  They then twist that around claiming because only a 10 or 20% of guns were actually checked, that means none of the others are provably from the U.S..  Using that analogy that means of the hundreds of thousands of pounds of cocaine captured coming into the country, only about 1/2 of 1% is really cocaine, because they didn't test it all and that means it's not cocaine.

Try this, 1 picture is worth a thousand words---look.

Why doesn't Mexico control the guns flowing....

into their side of the border and leave the USA to control the flow of people and drugs into ours?  Why is it someone else's responsibility, other than that of Mexico, to control what enters their country? 

Mexican President's Weapons Data Misleading


But this number says nothing about the percentage of guns seized in Mexico that originated in the U.S., because the U.S. does not trace the majority of guns seized in Mexico. Figures like “87 percent” sound impressive, but actual numbers are more illustrative. According to the GAO, the number of guns seized in Mexico that have been traced back to the U.S. has ranged from 5,260 in 2005 to 1,950 in 2006 to 3,060 in 2007 to 6,700 in 2008.

Thus, if the “last three years” the President mentioned are 2007, 2008, and 2009, only 9,760 of the guns seized in those years – the total of 2007 and 2008 – definitely came from the U.S. The U.S. share for 2009 has not yet been reported, but even if it doubled the total of 2008, the U.S. share for all three years would be less than a third of the 75,000 seizures in Mexico. A more realistic U.S. share is between 20 and 25 percent.



17% of Mexican Arms come from US

The myth that 80 or 90 percent of Mexican seized arms come from the US has been debunked.  The fact is that only 17% of the seized arms in Mexico come from the US.  A large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.

Between 2004 and 2008 3,480

Between 2004 and 2008 3,480 guns came from the US and over 26,000 came from elsewhere but banning guns in the US would solve the violence problem in Mexico?  Clearly there is an agenda here that has nothing to do with violence in Mexico.

The GAO (US Government Accountability Office) is supposed to be non-partisan but even the Department of Homeland Security believes that the GAO report was misleading.  From DHS:

"Department of Homeland Security officials question the statistic involving the origination of weapons as currently presented by GOA.  DHS officials believe that the 87 percent statistic is misleading as the reference should include the number of weapons that could not be traced (i.e., out of approximately 30,000 weapons seized in Mexico, approximately 4,000 could be traced and 87 percent of those - 3,480 - originated in the United States.)"


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