Mexico Proves More Gun Control Does Not Mean Less Crime

By Larry Keane

Drug Guns iStock-913549340
Mexico’s attempts at gun-control show just how futile it is. IMG iStock-913549340

U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- Recently The Washington Post published an article depicting the rampant organized crime crisis in Mexico. There is no question that the crime and violence fueled by drug cartels in our southern neighbor are major problems for Mexico, the United States, and for the global community. However, the authors make a mistake typical of the gun control crowd; they blame the firearm rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution for the problems in Mexico.

Cartels are becoming bolder, showcasing weapons and drugs in videos used to not only attract potential recruits but also threaten those who might oppose them. Mexican officials who articulate their frustration in the article are very quick to blame cartel activity on their pro-gun northern neighbor and the authors are more than eager to parrot these inaccurate sentiments in the article.

The misplaced blame is unfortunate because the right solutions cannot be implemented if the problem is not correctly identified. If firearm rights are the problem, why does the United States not face a similar level of cartel-related violence? Particularly under President Trump, crimes are prosecuted. The government enforces the law. Making the United States more like Mexico, with its clearly ineffective gun control policies, will not solve Mexico’s problem and is surely not a successful model for the U.S. to follow.

Narcotics activity is an ongoing, destructive problem in Mexico, a country infamous for the uneven enforcement of its own laws. The United States has a role to play as a partner in helping to deter and prosecute any cross-border cartel activities. However, shifting the conversation from law enforcement and rooting out government corruption to the Second Amendment is unhelpful and misguided.

Straw Purchasing

Cartels, while illicit, typically operate based on a for-profit business model. Buying firearms in bulk from countries in Central and South America is much more efficient than traversing the U.S. border with one or two guns at a time. With so much attention put on the northern border, this option is preferred for arming large amounts of sicarios at a time.

Inversely, buying firearms in the United States is a bigger hurdle than what Mexican officials and The Washington Post would like their readers to think. One of the ways that cartels can acquire firearms here in the U.S. and take them across the border is by straw purchasing – an illegal activity. While there are many avenues for criminals to secure firearms, passing more gun laws here in the United States, a strategy that Mexican officials demand, would do nothing to curb criminals from committing crimes.

Straw purchasing is when a non-prohibited person lies on a background check form to buy a firearm for someone else. This is already a serious and known federal crime, enforced with a felony conviction sentence of 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. Gun shops are educated by ATF through the NSSF-funded Don’t Lie For the Other Guy partnership program to identify and deny such transactions; however, like border security officials, they cannot catch everyone who lies and breaks the law. Cartels routinely bribe young adults and incentivize addicts to illegally purchase firearms in the United States and then illegally traffic those guns over the border using narcotics routes or sometimes border checkpoints. Thankfully, through the efforts of the Department of Justice with Operation Legend, straw purchasers are being prosecuted and brought to justice for illegally supplying guns to criminals.

Myths and Guns

The Washington Post wrongly points a finger at firearms being purchased at gun shows without a background check. This over-simplified vilification misses the facts on background checks. Licensed firearm retailers must run a background check before selling a firearm in any circumstance, whether in a store, at a gun show, or online and, the vast overwhelming number of guns sold at gun shows are sold by licensed dealers after a background check. The myth of the “Gun Show Loophole” has become a rallying cry for antigun proponents and those who do not understand the legal commerce of firearms.

Another prominent myth is that 90 percent of firearms recovered in Mexico originated from the United States. This is unequivocally false. This myth originated from Congressional testimony by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) when the ATF misstated and quickly attempted to clarify that 90 percent of the firearms traced by the ATF in Mexico circa 2008 came from the United States.

Mexico only submits to the ATF for tracing those firearms that they identify as coming from the United States. The ATF is not asked to – and has no way to trace firearms that are from outside of the United States. While the Mexican government rarely releases data on the number of firearms seized, it did in 2008. When the number of firearms submitted to the ATF for tracing is compared to the actual number seized in Mexico, the truth is about 12 percent of firearms seized in Mexico came from the United States.

Mexican officials should look internally before casting blame and making policy demands of other countries. Not all firearms that originate from the United States were trafficked or otherwise illegally brought into Mexico. Often, governments sell firearms to each other, which is certainly the case with the United States and Mexico. The United States and other countries sell firearms under official contracts to Mexico’s government. With the incentives provided by cartels, many soldiers and police officers have taken their training and service firearms and put it to work for the lucrative, but illicit, narcotics trade. Defections have soared to more than 150,000, which contributes to the ongoing problem of too many criminals and not enough police to push back. Mexico’s Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was accused of taking bribes to allow a narcotics cartel to operate in Mexico. Zepeda, who served as Mexico’s Secretary of National Defense from 2012-2018, was arrested by U.S. authorities in October for suspicions of money laundering and narcotics conspiracy. Charges were later dropped, rumored by threats from Mexicano authorities to push out Drug Enforcement Agency authorities from Mexico, among other threats.

Enforce the law

Compounding the problem further are black markets like Tepito where firearms are one of many items that can be purchased illegally in a tented shopping area. Here, the black market is operated by Union de Tepito, a cartel that uses children as lookouts and is fortified enough that law enforcement agencies avoid the area altogether. In some instances, law enforcement officials are even working for the cartel, proving again that giant drug cartels are the problem, not the firearms themselves. The United States, which has vastly more firearms and more first-time gun owners than ever before, does not have the same crime problems as its neighbor south of the Rio Grande.

More guns does not equal more crime. Annual data from the FBI shows reduced violent crime for another year in a row in the United States. Mexico has one gun shop in the middle of a military base, operated stringently by the military. This creates a largely unarmed law abiding populous who, in turn, become helpless victims against well-armed criminal elements on a national level. It is safe to say that following the Mexican model of government and lawmaking for firearms would not be advantageous for law-abiding citizens on either side of the border. Time and budgets of both nations would be better spent catching criminals instead of deliberating what new laws can suddenly cease all criminal activity.


About The National Shooting Sports Foundation

NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations, and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org

National Shooting Sports Foundation

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Cruiser
Cruiser
10 months ago

“When guns are outlawed, only Mexico will have guns.”

Tionico
Tionico
10 months ago

Gun shops are educated by ATF through the NSSF-funded Don’t Lie For the Other Guy partnership program to identify and deny such transactions; That is the theory and only when certain folks are looking. The reality was tossed out the window during Fast and FUrious. I well remember a family in New Mexico, four members, who ran an FFL gun store, They were approached by some suspicious characters they felt were wanting to make straw buys, and they contacted BATF district office, which told them to go ahead with the sales. They ultimately refused.. and that district of BATF nipped round… Read more »

Jonesy
Jonesy
10 months ago

2008..? Wasn’t that about the time of Obama’s “Fast and Furious” little debacle?

nrringlee
nrringlee
10 months ago

What I witnessed as a military advisor in Honduras and El Salvador in the 1980′ s and early 1990’s convinced me that it is the international organized crime syndicates who are responsible for the flow of weapons in to Central and South America. Containers of weapons came in to that part of the world marketed by cash strapped governments with the assistance of these netorks: AK’s and other Warsaw Pact gear came from Asia and Cuba. Our own gear was remarketed from Southeast Asia. There seemed to be a never ending supply of weapons and other gear available to both… Read more »

Vanns40
Vanns40
10 months ago
Reply to  nrringlee

I was also down there In that late period and an “acquaintance” who worked for an alphabet agency related how he purchased 5,000 AK’s (real not semi) for $50 each to supply a group. The way to freedom is the repeal of all restrictive arms laws and strict enforcement of laws against rape, robbery, assault and murder.

Last edited 10 months ago by Vanns40
buzzsaw
buzzsaw
10 months ago

Well, the US has been taking the same approach to drugs as Mexico has been taking toward guns for their subjects. No doubt the cartels are licking their chops at the possibility of severe gun control in the US. Guess who will be providing the illegal guns, gun parts and ammunition to the US. The cartels just see another chance for tremendous profits. The best thing the US can do for Mexico, and itself is to decriminalize recreational, or self-medicating, drug use. This would remove much of the profit from the cartels, and bring drug abuse out into the open… Read more »

BigJim
BigJim
10 months ago
Reply to  buzzsaw

The people who die from substance abuse and become a cautionary tale are also are own failures as well as theirs. When we should’ve done or said something, yet said “its their choice.” See there are sins of Commission & sins of Omission as well. Everyone is equally guilty.

Tionico
Tionico
10 months ago
Reply to  BigJim

BUNKUM. Im not buying that lie today. You sound like the race baiters who are trying to convince me that I am responsible for slavery two hundred years ago when half my family tree were still in Europe, some of them fighting to end the slave trade. EVERY MEN stands before the God who made him, and answers to Him only. Yes, we do have some responsibility in some cases…. when I become aware of someone else iin a “fault” like drug abuse, I am obligated to go to him privately, and restore him. If that doesn’t work there are… Read more »

grant
grant
10 months ago

Here are the inconvenient, absolute, undeniable, indisputable facts and truths about gun control; – NEVER in the entire history of gun control anywhere in the world, has any gun-control legislation, law or penalty stopped a bad-man from getting a gun. – ALL of the gun-control or gun safety laws anywhere in the world affect only Law-Abiding Gun Owners, effectively disarming them from being able to protect themselves, their loved ones and their homes. Because Bad-Men do not obey laws. – The ENTIRETY of gun-control or gun safety laws everywhere on Earth create only a world full of victims, and, as… Read more »

JSNMGC
JSNMGC
10 months ago
Reply to  grant

I agree, and the reason gun control is proposed is almost always unrelated to an attempt at lowering crime. It is typically done:

  • To get elected/re-elected (e.g., Trump’s advocacy for gun control*); or
  • To disarm people who disagree with a further movement toward Totalitarianism (e.g., the people controlling Biden)

*Discussion of Trump’s gun control in the comments to this article:

https://www.ammoland.com/2020/11/gun-grabbers-demand-unprecedented-executive-actions/#axzz6frA8LL9C

Ronnie
Ronnie
10 months ago
Reply to  grant

GRANT — Your absolutely Correct — its been the Agenda of the leftist /libs- in our gov. to Disarm us American Citizens who lawfully Have Firearms ! There’s a reason why they are doing it — Long ago Joe made a deal with the CCP – and now they want to collect on the deal – They have been paying joe and several others billions over the yrs. and the only way They can take over is to disarm ALL OF US FIRST — but Joe has to first destroy our economy totally – this is where the shutdown for… Read more »