Cross-border smuggling works both ways when it comes to the United States and Mexico. Drug cartels operating south of the border are a main source of illegal narcotics in the U.S., while firearms purchased or stolen north of the border make their way into the hands of the drug cartels on a regular basis.
You’d think this would be a reason for both sides to want better border security, but for some reason when it comes to trying to block firearms from traveling south of the border the issue tends to focus on the supposed need for more gun control laws.
On Thursday, Mexico’s Consul General in El Paso, Texas held an online forum on arms trafficking, which featured a call for more restrictions on the Second Amendment by a college professor in the city. Josiah Heyman is the director of the Center for Interamerican and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso, and he was one of those speaking out in favor of cracking down on the right to keep and bear arms.
“Not only do we have a shared problem, but also a shared responsibility and a shared opportunity,” he said, adding that several U.S. citizens living in Mexico have been killed in Juarez since 2008.
The number of women killed by gun violence is also on the rise in Juarez, which sits across the border from El Paso, in the past few years.
“We are probably not going to solve the entire issue of violence and illegal markets, but what we can do is make it less dangerous. This is a goal that should be shared by Mexico and the U.S. government and all people who want to live safe,” he said.
Both governments need to come up with strategies that include going after the cartels’ finances – the money that allows them to obtain U.S. guns, Heyman said.
Heyman called for tougher gun regulations in the United States, including eliminating the private gun sale option and more comprehensive checks and licensing.
I wonder what Heyman would think about the idea of the Biden administration setting up some sort of operation that allows guns to be walked across the southern border and into the hands of drug cartel members so we can track the firearms and arrest cartel leaders? We could call it Operation Faster and Furiouser.
While Heyman was calling for more gun control laws in the U.S., the Mexican officials who spoke at Thursday’s forum focused more on actual border security.
“The Mexican government is going to propose specific actions to U.S. authorities, including intrusive and non-intrusive inspections of vehicles at the border, as well as the use of technology to stop arms trafficking,” said Fabian Medina Hernandez, chief of the Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.
Right now, Mexico inspects only about one in 20 vehicles coming over from places like El Paso, Texas. In Juarez, the lone X-ray machine at the Bridge of the Americas port of entry can inspect four to five vehicles at a time.
Southbound checks by U.S. Customs and Border Protection are infrequent, habitual commuters tell Border Report.
Medina also brought up U.S. gun stores, claiming, “there are 9,000 sales points for guns along the U.S. border. I don’t know that they have as many McDonald’s restaurants as they have gun stores there.”
That’s a bit misleading. There aren’t 9,000 gun stores along the U.S./Mexico border, which would mean multiple gun stores every mile along the line of demarcation between the two nations. What Medina is likely referring to are the total number of FFLs in the border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Even if every one of those FFLs were to turn in their license and shut down their operations, the drug cartels could still get their hands on guns through other illicit means.
The cartels have multiple ways of acquiring firearms, including theft and illicit sales of military weaponry from more than 50 countries across the globe.
An arms mapping visualization developed by the Igarapé Institute with partners including Google Ideas shows that Mexican imports of all types of weaponry increased steadily from 2006 onward. Moreover, the share of all imports that included military-style weapons shot up from around 10-25 percent a year to 30-50 percent each year during this timeframe.
While many of these weapons are officially destined for the Mexican armed forces and the country’s more than 1,600 federal, state and local police agencies, some of them fall into the hands of cartels and militia. In Mexico, military-style arms are frequently diverted and leaked from official arsenals. In some cases weapons are sent to the wrong customers altogether. For example, a recent high-profile case involved 9,000 firearms shipped illegally to Mexico by a German firm…
Igarapé Institute and University of San Diego research has determined that a considerable proportion of illegally acquired firearms in Mexico were originally sold by federally licensed dealers in the US. Meanwhile, older issue US and Soviet-style weaponry is also trafficked from post-conflict Central American countries, including via El Salvador, Honduras and of course Guatemala.
Military and police stocks in some of these Central American countries were singled out by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala as the largest source of illegal firearms in the region. Twentieth-century M16s and AK-47s have surfaced in the arsenals of the Juarez, Sinaloa, Zeta and Gulf cartels, though the quantities are comparatively modest.
In other words, more gun control laws in the United States doesn’t mean fewer guns in the hands of cartels in Mexico. Unfortunately, given the anti-gun attitudes of the Biden administration, the success of any new gun control measures is far less important than putting them on the books and enforcing them against American citizens, and the pleas for help from Mexican authorities provides the administration with another excuse to target the Second Amendment rights of American citizens.
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