The U.S.-Mexico border is a rough place, to be sure, and it has been for quite some time. This is especially true because, generally speaking, only one side actually cared about securing the border. After all, it wasn’t the United States that published a pamphlet teaching people how to illegally cross the border.
For years, Mexico didn’t worry much about the border at all. That allowed all sorts of people to band together to cross the border illegally, whether it was simply moving people across the border or moving contraband. Now, it’s big business.
Also now, it’s a problem for Mexico.
“What we focused on in our story was the increase in the trafficking of very large, powerful weapons, including 50-caliber sniper rifles,” said Kevin Seiff, Latin America correspondent for The Washington Post. “And the reason these are important is because over the last few years, it’s become pretty clear that some of the large Mexican drug cartels have more powerful arsenals than the security forces, especially the Mexican police, who are responsible, theoretically, for targeting them and for making sure they don’t grow, for making sure that they don’t target Mexican civilians.”
“Mexico is demanding a lot more of the U.S. on this issue,” Seiff said. “They started a working group, and in one of these working group meetings, just to give you a sense of how tense this is, that the Mexican defense secretary stood up and said, ‘You know, what if we did as as little to stop drugs as you’re doing to stop guns?’ which I think really gets at the heart of the problem.”
Yet there’s a key difference.
See, drugs are illegal in Mexico too. Despite that, Mexico has become the drug capital of the world. The Mexican government may be trying to stop the flow of drugs into the United States, but they’re powerless to do so.
Meanwhile, guns are actually legal in the United States. Law-abiding citizens have a right to keep and bear arms. While that right technically also exists in Mexico, they have a warped understanding of how rights actually work. Unlike the Mexican people, we’re not willing to roll over and allow the government to restrict sales to only one store in the entire country where we have to beg permission just to enter the store.
So that means it’s always going to be harder to stop guns from flowing south than it should be to stop drugs from flowing north.
However, there’s also the decades of inaction on illegal immigration at work here as well. The Mexican government didn’t just turn a blind eye to illegal immigration, they actively aided it. That created a two-way path where both people and goods could flow. That includes firearms going south of the border.
By now, with the Mexican government’s help, many of the smugglers know precisely how to avoid being caught.
Look, I’m sympathetic to the problems Mexico is having. No one wants to see their country torn apart like this. However, they have only themselves to blame. The Law of Unintended Consequences yields for no nation, after all.
Of course, I’m also trying to figure out just how the cartels have “more powerful arsenals” than the security forces if they’re just buying what we can buy over the counter here in the United States, but that’s a topic for another day.