Mexican crime is a huge problem. But Mexico has really strict gun laws. The problem is that U.S. gun laws are so lax that they flow across the border into Mexico with more regularity than the Rio Grande.
American firearms are directly driving the violence, although U.S. appetites for drugs and rampant corruption among Mexican officials also play a role. About 70% of guns recovered by Mexican law enforcement officials from 2011 to 2016 were originally purchased from legal gun dealers in the United States, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Mexican leaders have long complained about the phenomenon. In 2012, then-President Felipe Calderon erected a giant billboard in the border city of Juarez that spelled out the phrase “No more weapons.” The letters, formed using crushed firearms seized by authorities, were visible from Texas.
Most trafficked guns are purchased in the U.S. from one of the country’s more than 67,000 licensed gun dealers or from private sellers who don’t hold a federal license. When dealing from private sellers, buyers often aren’t required to present identification or submit to background checks.
None of this is to take attention away from internal problems in Mexico that contribute to the violence–which are huge and pretty intractable at this point. But the U.S. now drives both the supply and demand for the violence. We give Mexican cartels the guns and we demand the drugs the cartels deliver. But hey, I’m sure Donald Trump, American Spiritual Leader, will help out, right?
Gun control advocates on both sides of the border say Mexican leaders should also push the government to do a better job of ensuring that guns issued to police and soldiers don’t fall into the hands of criminals, which many often do.
They are also concerned about a new Trump administration proposal to deregulate the export of American guns by putting the Commerce Department in charge of the application process instead of the State Department, which advocates say is better suited to weigh the possible risks of firearm sales against any benefits
The proposed rule change, which was expected to be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, has long been sought by gun companies eager for easier access to international markets, but advocates worry it could put more guns in the hands of corrupt governments.