June 14, 2018


How America Is Exporting Gun Violence to Mexico: A failed drug war and lax U.S. gun regulations spell out disaster for Mexico. (LAURA WEISS, 6/12/18, In These Times)

Some 70 percent of guns recovered in Mexico in the last five years originated in the United States. Some of these guns come from the legal transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in guns to Mexican police and military forces, which often wind up in the hands of criminal organizations, fueling violence. Guns also come from illegal gun trafficking facilitated by easy purchasing requirements, as well as lax regulations and documentation.

In 2017, Mexico had the highest homicide rate since the peak of its drug war in 2011, with nearly 30,000 people murdered. Some 70 percent of guns recovered in Mexico between 2011 and 2016 originated in the United States. According to a new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), the proportion of murders in Mexico committed with firearms has skyrocketed in the last two decades: In 1997, 15 percent of Mexico's homicides were committed with a gun, whereas by 2017, this number had jumped to 66 percent.

"Gun regulations in the United States are clearly associated to violence in Mexico and in other countries," Eugenio Weigend Vargas, co-author of the CAP report, told In These Times. Weigend Vargas pointed to a number of factors leading to this rise in gun violence in Mexico--in particular, the end of the U.S. government's federal ban on assault weapons in 2004. A 2013 study found that homicides, gun-related homicides and crime gun seizures in Mexican border states rose between 2004 and 2013, with the exception of Mexican states bordering California, which retained its assault weapons ban.

Guns reach Mexico both through legal gun exports and through illegal gun trafficking. According to the CAP report, 298,000 guns per year are legally exported from the United States to Mexico, while almost the same number are illegally trafficked. Weigend Vargas attributes illegal gun trafficking to two key factors: Assault weapons are legal in the United States, and there are loopholes for those who are restricted from purchasing guns. Though some states require background checks for purchasing guns, these are usually not checked at gun shows. "So anybody with a criminal record, or a gun trafficker, can get to a gun show and purchase four, five AR-15s and AK-47s, and then smuggle them to Mexico," Weigend Vargas said.

Meanwhile, the United States has multi-million dollar contracts with military contracting companies, such as Sig Sauer, Inc, to deliver these guns, according to John Lindsay-Poland, who runs the Stop U.S. Arms to Mexico program at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). AFSC published a report in late 2016 on the harmful impact of legal gun sales to Mexico, including their role in exacerbating the country's crisis of disappearances.

Posted by at June 14, 2018 6:59 PM