US guns fuel Mexico drug war? The politics behind the issue.
A new report shows that 70 percent of confiscated weapons submitted for tracing come from the US, but critics say the figure is politically motivated.
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Mr. Diaz argues in the report The Militarization of the US Civilian Firearms Market that those guns are increasingly modeled after the military. He says that semiautomatic assault rifles, 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifles, and armor-piercing handguns are the “weapons of choice” for drug organizations in Mexico.
Mr. Farago does not doubt that military-style weapons are in the hands of drug traffickers in Mexico. But he says that is because weapons from the Mexican military are seeping into drug traffickers’ hands.
Traffickers also acquire military weapons from other countries.
“Grenades and fully automatic machine guns are not sold at Bob’s gun store in Arizona,” Farago says. “This is a distraction technique. There is not an iron river of guns from [US] gun stores.” [Editor's note: The original version of this story misnamed the source of this quote.]
The newest report comes as the ATF is under fire for a sting operation that purposefully allows some automatic weapons to be smuggled south of the border so it can track them. Mexican authorities have long faulted robust American demand for drugs and lax gun laws for their woes.
Calderón: 'I accuse the US weapons industry'
Mexican President Felipe Calderón reiterated that stance bluntly this week. "I accuse the US weapons industry of [responsibility for] the deaths of thousands of people that are occurring in Mexico," Mr. Calderón said over the weekend, while on a visit to California. "It is for profit, for the profits that it makes for the weapons industry."
Diaz says the Mexican government needs to get even tougher on the US arms industry, even finding a channel to sue it. But gun rights activists have long said this is misplaced blame – that gun laws in the US are much laxer than in Mexico and yet the same levels of violence and impunity are nowhere near what Mexico is encountering: to date more than 35,000 drug-related deaths in the past four and a half years.
In fact, Farago says Mexico should loosen its restrictions on rights to bear arms, even allowing the US to supply citizens with weapons. “We should be supplying guns to Mexican citizens who cannot defend themselves,” he says. “They are completely at the mercy of these drug [traffickers].”