New Slant On Old Story: Blame American Gun Rights For Immigration Crisis
A recent Associated Press article rehashes an old report, based on older data, to tell a convenient story: Americans’ Second Amendment rights are responsible for the violence in Mexico. As we have noted here before, that is not true. There is no new information in this article that we or others have not rebutted before. In fact, the only “news hook” for the article appears to be gun control groups blaming American gun rights for the immigration crisis along the southern border.
No one doubts the serious systemic violence problems in Mexico and Central America. Gangs and drug cartels terrorize innocent civilians and the government struggles with rampant corruption in its attempts to protect its citizens. But to argue that “the U.S. government is essentially exporting gang violence into Latin America with permissive gun laws – which in turn creates an immigration crisis along the border,” is ridiculous.
Theft And Straw Purchases
The truth is, American gun companies cannot export firearms into Mexico for commercial sale. With State Department approval, some transactions with the country’s military and law enforcement branches are permissible, but no guns are being legally sold into the hands of gangs. The firearms that end up in the hands of criminals originate from the theft or illegal straw purchase of firearms from law-abiding U.S. retailers or from the Mexican government. Some enter criminal circles when the U.S. government sells firearms to the Mexican government, and then Mexican soldiers defect to work for drug cartels.
Sure, there are exceptions to this, such as the Obama Administration’s Fast and Furious operation, during which the government allowed firearms to cross the border knowingly and illegally. But as we have analyzed here before, nearly 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico originated from OUTSIDE of the U.S. Of the small percentage that can be traced to the U.S., many did not come from federally licensed firearms retailers. In 2009, in response to concerns over the violence in Mexico, the ATF conducted more than 2,000 inspections of firearms retailers in Texas and Arizona. These inspections did not result in a single dealer being charged with a crime.
Enforce The Laws We Have
The issue here is not enacting more laws to ban already-illegal activities, the issue is whether the laws are being enforced. Under the Obama Administration, they were not enforced. Under Trump, we see a new commitment to prosecuting gun crimes. Of course, the firearms and ammunition industry doesn’t just rely on the government to address these crimes. NSSF continues to build on our long-standing anti-straw purchasing program, “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy.” This program, which is 100 percent funded by the industry and run in partnership with ATF, helps educate firearms retailers to be better able to identify and deter illegal straw purchases and to raise public awareness that straw purchasing is a serious crime.
Making it more difficult for law-abiding Americans to protect themselves, their families, and their property will not solve Mexico’s crime problems. It would only serve to punish those that do follow the law. If anything, Mexico is an excellent case study for what happens when civilians are prohibited from owning firearms for personal use or protection.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.