Opinion

The Great Debate

American guns and the war next door

By Bernd Debusmann
December 18, 2008

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate– Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. –

Last year, around 2,500 Mexicans died in the twin wars drug cartels are waging against each other and against the Mexican state, using weapons smuggled in from the United States. In the first 11 months of this year, the death toll was 5,367, according to the Mexican attorney general. Next year?

There is no end in sight. At least two of the lethal ingredients in the toxic brew that fuels Mexico’s ever-widening violence are unlikely to change: lax American gun laws and a Mexican border that barely controls north-south traffic. On many of the crossing points along the 2,000-mile frontier, travelers coming in from the United States, by car or on foot, are routinely waved through without even having to show identity papers.

Weak Mexican border controls rarely feature in official or academic reports on a problem that has prompted some experts and U.S. publications to wonder whether Mexico is a “failing state”. That’s the headline over a cover story on Mexico in the latest edition of the business magazine Forbes. Mexican officials reject the label.

But privately, they concede that Mexican authorities are doing a less-than-thorough job in searching and monitoring north-south traffic. They tend to point in the other direction, to the easy availability of guns in the United States, the armory of Mexico’s criminal mafias.

According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the agency charged with regulating the firearms industries, there are 9,161 licensed arms dealers in the four states bordering Mexico — California, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Buyers from licensed establishments need to go through a background check and the serial numbers of their purchases can be traced.

No background checks and no paperwork is necessary for weapons traded between private citizens on the “secondary” market — gun shows, over the Internet, through classified advertisements. Around 40 percent of all gun sales in the United States, where private citizens own at least 200 million guns, are on the informal market, estimates the Violence Policy Center, a Washington-based group in favor of tougher gun controls.

How many guns are smuggled across the porous border? Nobody knows, and a frequently used figure of 2,000 every day appears to be more of an urban legend than an estimate based on evidence. It would amount to 730,000 smuggled guns a year.

Whatever the number, it is enough for the U.S. State Department, on its website, to advise citizens contemplating a visit to Mexico that “recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have taken on the characteristics of small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and, on occasion, grenades”.

AMONG WEAPONS OF CHOICE: COP KILLERS

Almost all the weapons seized inside Mexico or left at the scene of shootouts have been traced back to the United States through eTrace, an electronic system the ATF set up to trace illicit firearms. The cartel killers’ weapons of choice: AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles. Favorite pistols: Colt .38 Super, Glock 9 millimeter, and the FN 5-7, nicknamed “cop killer” because it can pierce a flak jacket at a range of 300 meters.

All these can be legally (and easily) acquired in the United States by citizens and legal residents without a criminal record, after a background check with the Federal Bureau of Investigations that often takes less than 15 minutes. The ease with which Americans can get arms flares into public controversy at regular intervals, usually after a gun owner with a grudge commits a massacre in a school or other public place.

Attempts to introduce more restrictions have failed regularly, and this year the Supreme Court ended decades of legal argument by ruling that the second amendment of the U.S. constitution, written 219 years ago, does guarantee an individual’s right “to keep and bear arms”.

Even Eduardo Medina Mora, the outspoken Mexican attorney general who makes no secret of his frustration with the flow of weapons from the north, seems resigned to the prospect that the United States will not change its gun laws to keep Mexico from sliding into deeper trouble.

“Although … it may seem absurd to us that a (U.S.) citizen can buy an AK-47, an AR-15, or a Barrett .50, it’s the law of the land,” he told the Spanish newspaper El Pais in November. The last item on his list is a sniper rifle that costs $8,650, weighs 30 pounds and can punch through an armored vehicle from a mile away.

On the U.S. side of the border, the ATF has just launched an advertising campaign in Arizona to remind citizens that buying guns on behalf of others — so called-straw purchases — carries penalties of up to 10 years in jail. Using straw buyers has been one of the cartels’ methods to evade background checks. Gun shows are another.

Just before entering Mexico, large signs at crossing points read: “Warning: Firearms and Ammunition Illegal in Mexico.” Chances that you are stopped and searched by Mexican officials are slim.

Reuters correspondent Tim Gaynor, author of a forthcoming book on the frontier (Midnight on the Line: The Secret Life of the U.S.-Mexico Border) reports: “In scores of crossings I have made to Mexico over several years, I have been stopped on just two or three occasions. Never once have I had my car searched. The odds are heavily in favor of the smugglers.”

Time for Mexico to start watching its border rather than pointing a finger at the United States?

You can contact the author at Debusmann@reuters.com. For previous columns by Bernd Debusmann, click here.

Comments
202 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Let me think, Drug Cartel’s with unlimited money and sumggling prowness can only buy guns in America? they could not buy guns from any where else? Do you think anyone belives the crap in this article? SEAL THE BORDER, rmemember whan Nixon did it?

Posted by snoop dogg | Report as abusive
 

1. One man’s government oppression is another man’s government enforcement of the law.
2. The Supreme Court case one commenter referred to was 5:4 compared to every other Supreme Court case on the 2nd
Amendment which were all unanimous the other way. And those 5, three were on the majority side in Bush v. Gore while the other two would likely have been there too, so don’t put much weight behind their opinion. Only one federal appeals circuit went the way of this Court’s majority, the one based in Texas (naturally); all others went the other way. And I’m not surprised this Court went the way it did given Scalia’s personal interest in firearms which may have determined his vote in the case. And if you read the opinion drafted by Scalia you should have noticed that he closely analyzed every part of the dependent clause of the 2nd amendment except “being necessary”, most likely because including that phrase would have called the rest of his opinion into doubt.
3. Are you just as angry when Fox’s commentators put out their opinions without bothering to back them up with hard facts? If not you’re applying a double standard.
4. Vermont is not part of the Southern gun culture as is Texas, so no wonder they don’t kill each other with the abandon Texans and other southerners do. They don’t carry as often as the one commenter implied.
5. So it’s politically correct to blame the US for all these troubles? But over what country do we have direct control but the US? If we can’t determine what other countries do at least we can control what goes on in our own, and suggesting the other countries come up to our standards for them is patronizing as well as impossible so it’s pointless to point our finger at them. I’d guess this is something all the legalization of drugs folks believe sotto voce.
6. Why aren’t the same numbers killed in the US as in Mexico? Perhaps we have better cops and a better justice and penal system (as many lead heads on this thread acknowledge) as well as simply a greater regard for human life.
7. Plea bargains are necessary in the US justice system because there isn’t always enough good evidence to convict someone in a trial or enough resources (i.e. tax $) in the system to fully investigate crimes. If you don’t like it then by all means volunteer more of your $ to the government.
8. Just because Mexican narcos could obtain firearms and ammo from sources other than the US is no excuse for not trying to limit the flow of these two from the US to Mexico. It’s the only one we have direct control over, if we choose to exercise it.
9. Yes the US has strict laws against possession of full auto assault rifles but that ignores now easy it is to convert the civilian versions of AK-47s and M-16s to their military versions. I had a neighbor when I was a kid who was sent to prison for dealing in conversion kits.
10. How to avoid being killed by a gun? Run the other way. Far easier to do than run from a bullet which travels faster than anyone I know of.
11. If a robber had a gun on you and you began pulling yours, don’t you think he’d just shoot you instead of waiting for you to draw down on him? Kind of refutes the “self-defense to armed robbery” excuse which is why nobody acknowledges it. Thus how is packing a concealed weapon a deterrent to armed robbery?
12. Nobody has really refuted Norm’s statistics; they’ve only chosen to disbelieve them.

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive
 

Excuse me, correction. 10. How to avoid being killed by a knife? Run the other way.

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive
 

Boring!! Here we go again! Same old same old; another lefty Pinko generating another insane reason why the people of the United States should no longer be allowed to own guns. Obama has you stoked huh? Why dont these people move? Move to China or Cuba and now Venezuela too; move and enjoy your restrictions!

Posted by Mick | Report as abusive
 

I think most of the people posting here negative comments spouting their right wing gun-hugger nonsense, miss key points, first the US is a major producer of firearms, this means responsibility for who gets these weapons regardless of whether it is inside the country or out, two as the most powerful country in the world both economically and militarily, every oversight has repercussions around the world, and as a democracy that means you the citizens are responsible for what it does. So, in effect it is not the fault of the US that horrible things happen but as the saying goes evil triumphs when good people do nothing.

 

Read the following Jimbo, then google “Armed Citizen” for hundreds more, in answer to your #11. And remember most self defense actions with guns (1-2 million per year) occur without a shot ever being fired. If I had the time I could refute each one of your other foolish assertions, Read and learn:

“It’s kind of a blur, ” recalls Robert Smotherman of his life’s most terrifying moment. As he pulled into his driveway, two men wearing ski masks and carrying rifles ran around the corner and demanded his valuables. “I had a gun on me,” recalls Smotherman, a concealed-carry permit holder. “[They] hesitated, and I took the opportunity.” Police said Smotherman fired eight shots from his .45-caliber pistol, striking at least one of the suspects several times and causing both to flee. “I just took my gut reaction and went with my first instinct,” he explained. The wounded suspect was apprehended; his accomplice is being sought. (Bradenton Herald, Bradenton, FL, 09/14/08)

 

Another impotent European whining about the woes of America….that’s rich

Posted by J | Report as abusive
 

Lets see now;
Illegal alien comes to America…Crime 1
Illegal alien brings drugs…….Crime 2
Illegal alien gets gun (stolen)..Crime 3
Illegal alien takes gun home…..Crime 4

American crimes….0
Mexican crimes…..4

Looks like a Mexican problem,maybe Mexico should close the border.

Posted by Terry | Report as abusive
 

To poster german….You’re confused about where you are this is a republic, your thinking of some other country , right?

Posted by Terry | Report as abusive
 

The answer is to decriminalize drugs and then guess what?? Drug wars will end.

Posted by Carlos | Report as abusive
 

I live in the USA, I have worked in Mexico City DF since 2000, I worked in Costa Rica, Brazil, Argintina and a few other sparce places, my point is all of these Countries – states all have the same anti-or no legal gun laws what so ever. In Brazil for example, I worked the Amazon Region from Manus east to Belem and I spoke to many poeple whom live off the land, fish, hunt, etc. To obtain a shotgun is nearly impossible.
But if you just travel to the south machine guns rule the getto and the drug lords take on the Army and Police all the time. So, did the light bulb come on with regards to Mexico yet? Because Brazil is not attached by land to any country that has favorable gun laws, Agentina to the south is completely Left wing, all the western and nothern latin countries are no guns, and pretty much left wingers. Whats the bottom line, the governments are all corrupt, not that ours here in the good ole USA isnt, we just think its not.

The majority of the US population is not very well traveled, and has no outside world understanding, most cant read a map let alone point out countries on a blank world map or globe. So, all I can say is this, be ready because the difficulties that lay ahead for most will not be solved by Bush, Clintons, or Obama printing money and giving it to Bankrupt corporations.

Its going to be a very long drawn out process, and anyone that reads this should consider entering technical college to become well skilled, retrained, and able to do what ever comes along. Just think, all the lawyers of the USA, who and what will they attack, how will they make money?

It will be a time to try to forget, but its just to large to run away from! Go out buy what you need, a gun, ammo, reloader etc, it might be what you need one day and cannot obtain.

Lexx,

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive
 

2 points:

Someone mentioned that existing gun laws in the U.S. are not prosecuted heavily enough; that too many deals are being cut by prosecutors. This, too, has its root cause in the failing U.S. war on drugs. Way too much time, prison space, and taxpayer dollars are spent on drug users, petty dealers and idiotic 3 strikes laws. VICTIMLESS CRIMES SHOULD NEVER BE PROSECUTED!!! We should be focusing our law enforcement efforts on violent offenders and not distracting ourselves with social engineering.

For the bleeding hearts: Yes, it’s terrible that people are killed with guns. But it’s your bleeding heart that won’t let you blame the person for the crime, so you blame an inanimate object. Americans must decide whether they want to be able to protect themselves against the government (the original intent of the 2nd ammendment) or entrust the government (this same government that brought us Iraq, a bankrupt Social Security, Fannie and Freddie, the Carter years, Vietnam, etc. ad nauseum) with our protection. This same govt. that we love to criticize is the one who would be confiscating our means of self defense.

Posted by Hoss | Report as abusive
 

It is never the criminal that is at the core of these discussions. There is no “war” on anything — Iraq, drugs, STD’s, pirates, teen pregnancy, illegal border crossings, etc. There is only a media induced hyperbole of limp-wristed nose pinchings taking place, under the guise of war. War should be swift, resolute, deadly and it is indeed ugly. The skirmish in Iraq could have been over years ago, if the troops would have been allowed to conduct a war. There is no war. Today we have — Skirmish … why yes son, I was in World Skirmish III.
Welcome to Obama Land … welcome to the Obama Nation. BHO — the poster boy for all of you that skirmish. Now, would you all please stand aside, and let those who know how, take care of things.

Posted by Nevlin | Report as abusive
 

Apply the same reasoning to drug smuggling. Why the intervention in Colombia is better than the border control in US?

Posted by carlos | Report as abusive
 

If Mexico was smart they would stop doing the US’s bidding and simply legalize all narcotics. That would solve the problem of the “drug war” and drug dealers. Mexico’s problem is not with drug abuse, it is with trying to interdict drugs on behalf of the US. All Central and South American countries should legalize and solve their own problems and then the US would have deal with its own issues.

Posted by rob | Report as abusive
 

Hey Hoss, in the US people are the government. Heard Junk, I have the time to read them so go ahead and post them. But also include all the stories of crimes committed by previously law-abiding gun owners like the recent California Christmas eve massacre.

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive
 

I’ve re-read this article several times and I still can’t see what the problem is here. The United States is a consumer of drugs and the worlds largest producer of arms. Mexico is a producer of drugs, and so it only makes sense that they would be a consumer of arms.

The US (and Britain) has been trading Armaments for the things it needs for centuries, Oil, heroin, dope, and this is in line with it’s free trade ideology.

If we are talking about Mexico’s “problems”, this is nothing more than a trade war between Mexico’s biggest producers. Trade wars are violent, as the past 200 years of trade wars shows us. The genocide of the Native Americans in the US was basically a trade war. The American Civil War was basically a trade war. WW1 has been called a trade war by some historians. WW2 was a financial war.

Clausewitz said, “war is the continuation of politics by other means”, but I say that war is business competition by other means.

Posted by Jason | Report as abusive
 

Guns Guns Guns. Incredible bad luck that almost all firearms excepting those owned by wealthy elites and wealthier criminal armies, are banned in Mexico. Perhaps some “good intentioned” imbecile should press for more stringent firearms bans in USA so that Mexico would be forced to acquire guns from – CHINA, RUSSIA, HUNGARY, CZECH REP, VENEZUELA, CUBA, SOUTH AFRICA, EGYPT, SOMALIA. It is unfair that Americans living along the Mexican border should have any means to defend themselves from the encroachments of Mexican Gangsters and Mexican American Gangsters. The 90 year single party rule of corrupt PRI Socialist Party kleptocracy and criminality certainly has nothing to do with the degenerate violent chaos in Mexico.

Posted by Wil - Indy | Report as abusive
 

In point of fact, any muzzle loading or modern rifle made since the 18th century can penetrate a police type soft kevlar bullet proof vest.

We should seal our borders and decriminalize drug use for adults in USA. Thus eliminate the profit motive that is the energizing motivation of the drug cartels and funding of FARC.

8000 dead by murdering criminals. Kind of puts a perspective on the Iraq War doesn’t it?

Posted by Wil - Indy | Report as abusive
 

As in any country that has disarmed it citizens, violence takes hold by criminals. An armed citizenry always lowers crime. The numbers prove it in the US when concealed carry laws are established in communities. Law abiding citizens should and have a right to personal protection. You can see what “gun laws” at the border of Mexico do right now. They are ignored by the criminals. Guns and ammunition are illegal in Mexico yet the criminals bring them in by the truck loads. In the US, you’ll notice most massacres occur where guns are prohibited by law abiding citizens. Schools and public buildings are places where citizens don’t have the right to personal protection by concealed carry. Otherwise these crimes would be halted before they happen by law abiding citizens armed to defend themselves.

Posted by John Stubler | Report as abusive
 

Hey Jimbo – check the law books and you’ll find that California has some of the toughest gun laws in the US. In other words, the criminal ignored the gun laws and the law abiding citizens were killed. If they had concealed carry laws in California, I bet those people killed that night might be alive. But their rights to defend themselves had been striped by the government. So you make the case for concealed carry by law abiding citizens even stronger by citing what a criminal can do when you don’t have the right to defend yourself.

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

This article misses the point, which is the U.S.’s failed war on drugs. Without a means to regulate the source of drugs, production and distribution is left up to those who are willing to kill for profit. We need to stop pretending that this war can be won, and remember the deep hypocricies within our own government. Let’s not forget the CIA plane that crashed a few years ago with millions of dollars worth of cocaine. We export our failed war on drugs and at the same time secretly import drugs into our own cities.

Posted by Tyler | Report as abusive
 

Mr Debusmann needs to be more careful with his research before spreading mis-information.
His comments “No background checks and no paperwork is necessary for weapons traded between private citizens on the “secondary” market — gun shows, over the Internet, through classified advertisements” is not exactly correct. It’s my understanding that trading long guns between private citizens does not require paperwork, but paperwork is required for hand guns. Also, I have never been to a gun show where firearms were for sale by un-licensed dealers, therefore paperwork & instant check was required for all firearm purchases. In addition, any transfer between states requires paperwork. In my opinion, The Violence Policy Center is nothing more than an organization hell bent on the repeal of the second amendment, and won’t let facts stand in the way of the message they preach.
In the future, I suggest Mr. Debusmann do some actual research, instead of simply regurgitating someone elses spin on a particular subject. That is, of course, if he ever expects to be taken as a serious journalist.

Posted by joe gaynor | Report as abusive
 

My favorite is asking anyone opposed to guns, if they would be willing to place a sign in their front yard, stating that very fact. In big bold letters tell the world you have no way of protecting yourself. So far, no takers.

Why do you think the cowardly “D.C. Sniper” drove all the way to D.C. and Maryland FROM California, and literally blasted people from the trunk of his car, killing I think it was 11-13 people total, that is correct, he knew there would be no guns to fire back at him since they were illegal then, hello.

Posted by sofa king stoopid | Report as abusive
 

Jimbo, you said the govt. is the people. Yes, to an extent. The laws of the land are passed by our representatives, so it’s a republic, not a democracy. Even then, we-the-people may pass laws by proxy, but the execution of those laws is ever further from our control. Look at the current bailouts that are being implemented, which were opposed by a majority of Americans across all parties, races and economic status. You cannot believe that the govt. consistently acts on behalf of the people’s interests. And taking away our right to rise up against the govt. (via gun control) if they go too far makes it a govt. which is that much more a govt. NOT of the people.

Posted by Hoss | Report as abusive
 

A moron with very little understanding of what is really going on except what he reads from other’s research and of course from behind his desk. Scary to think that people like Mr.Debusmann actually get paid for this.

Posted by Leo | Report as abusive
 

Joe Gaynor: “It’s my understanding that trading long guns between private citizens does not require paperwork, but paperwork is required for hand guns.”

Your understanding is wrong. This from a report this month by Mayors Against Illegal Guns:

(1) Background Checks for All
Handgun Sales at Gun Shows:
States that do not require background checks for all
handgun sales at gun shows have an average crime
gun export rate that is about twice the rate of states
that do require such background checks.
Under federal law, both federally licensed firearms dealers
(FFLs) and unlicensed private sellers are permitted to
sell firearms at gun shows. Licensed dealers are required
to run background checks to identify prohibited purchasers
and maintain sales records for all firearm transactions,
including at gun shows.15 However, persons
who maintain that they sell guns only occasionally – private,
unlicensed sellers – are currently exempt from
these federal background check and sales record retention
requirements at all locations, including gun shows.
This so-called “gun show loophole” allows individuals
who are prohibited from possessing or purchasing
firearms, such as convicted felons and persons with
mental illness, to sidestep the background check and
obtain guns from unlicensed sellers at gun shows.
A
2000 ATF report found gun shows to be involved
with the trafficking of approximately 26,000 firearms
over a two and a half year period. This figure represents
30% of all guns identified in federal criminal trafficking
cases over that period.16

Nine states and the District of Columbia require some
form of background check for all handgun sales at gun
shows.”

There is legislation pending to close the so-called gun show loophole. It’s called the Gun Show Background Check Act 2008. Here is a link:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd  ?bill=s110-2577

Posted by Bruno | Report as abusive
 

Many here have made good points.
1. The US has many very good laws regarding the international sale of arms.
2. Many states have very good laws regarding the sale and carry of arms.
3. Many in this country think it would be better if guns were illegal.
4. Many in this country think it would be better if illegal drugs were legal.
5. Governments are by nature corrupt.
Just thought I would take a tip from Jimbo and number my points.

Alex, has a point. With the gun prohibitionists taking power, now would be the right time to buy guns and reloading supplies and start stockpiling ammo. I like to target shoot and burn through a few hundred rounds a week. I may have to cut back.

It is good to see so many who grasp the relationship between black markets and violence. Make sure you let your Representatives know that you are against laws that maintain black markets and funnel so much money from the US into the hands of Criminals. Let them know you want to put a stop to the unconstitutional War on Drugs. Since the US is the worlds largest consumer in these drugs, such an act would cripple organized crime world wide. This would also move other nations to stop contributing to these black markets. Then we could concentrate on real problems like slavery in the world. The amount of money wasted on trying to stop Jim Bob from smoking a joint on his back porch could be much better spent on stopping the human trade in forced labor. That is the new title for slavery. Instead we believe the fear mongers and think the world will collapse if Pot or cocaine were legal while an estimated 10,000 children in this country are forced to work up to 20 hours a day as slaves to their masters who bought them in foreign countries. Sorry, I digress.

There are people who would rather use the turf wars south of the border fueled by black market income to limit legal possession of arms in the US. There is overwhelming evidence that banning arms does not stop the violence. Look at New York or DC. Yet they continue by saying that those areas are surrounded by gun toting states. But look at the example given by Alex. It doesn’t matter. You are not going to get ride of guns no matter how strict your laws are because the criminals do not care about your laws and there will always be someone to sell an illegal gun somewhere in the world and get it to the guy with the money…the criminal! This is why the Cartels in Colombia are better armed than the Colombian government. If you do not want them to have this kind of power then take their income away. However, do not think you can solve their problem by taking away my rights. I refuse to let the sheep of this nation strip me of my rights by taking away my ability to defend myself.

Lastly, Gaskins you are correct. In fact, during the Revolutionary War the civilians had better long arms than the military. It was our Kentucky long rifles that played hell with the British Officers. Our snipers were so good the British officers took to staying way behind the lines. But, the point is that at that time the people were better equipped than the military when it came to long arms. But, to day that is a far cry for true. True your average Joe didn’t have canon but, when it came to pistols and hand guns the military had noting over him. Are we, today, any less responsible than the Americans of 1776?

The gun prohibitionists cite the acts of the insane and clashes between criminal factions driven to their insane acts by greed as reason to take away our right to protect ourselves. I think many here have seen the flaw in that logic.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive
 

The US does have a lot more relaxed gun laws than many other countries. I would say that Mexico needs to search better at the boarder. There were several guns mentioned in this article. The author did some research on guns but failed to mention some major points about them. For instance a 50 caliber Browning will not punch through an armored car without armor piercing rounds at any reasonable distance, nor will the cop killer pistol be able to go through a flak jacket without the proper ammunition. The ammunition needed to create the destruction that is described here is not legal in the US- so black market Mexico or black market US they are being bought illegally.

Posted by albert | Report as abusive
 

I just wish they would use the weapons to overthrow the corrupt mexican government. I mean – what are weapons for anyway?

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive
 

Why not? It seems that everyone doesn’t want to take responsibility for their own actions and shortcomings…they would rather have someone to blame. And Mexico is unwilling to watch their borders, because they don’t want to inconvenience the tourist with the dollars…but they also let in thousands of guns a year. Gun crimes in general also fall in to this finger pointing territory. Take Columbine for example, the weeks and months after the incident they were blaming Marilyn Manson and the video game DOOM. And not looking at the way they were treated by others, or the lack of proper gun safety, arms not under lock, and not unloaded when in the case. It’s all a shame really.

Posted by Brenden | Report as abusive
 

Drug lords have money and can get whatever weapons they want. Weapons are readily available in central and South America. We are simply a supplier of convenience.
Until Mexico gains some semblance of rational, uncorrupt government there is no hope for it. Take every gun from every household in America and it would have no effect other than to make US residents easier targets.
The anarchy and corruption that passes for a government in Mexico should not affect our laws one iota.

Posted by riverguide | Report as abusive
 

You’re missing the point entirely! Instead of focusing on trying to regulate weapons. What do you suppose would happen if all of a sudden drugs were legalized? This nonsense would disappear overnight! It’s time to take a second look at this farce we call “The War on Drugs” and begin constructing a viable model for regulating drugs.

Posted by August Gioia | Report as abusive
 

TEMPESTUOUS TIMES! (Gun issue comments at end)
These are very tempestuous times and it is good to look beyond what is happening at a given moment and to see if a broader plan is working in the background to the detriment of the the American People.
Under both the Clinton and Bush administration’s, policies were put in place which are designed to eventually dissolve the United States of America and to the forming of a new United Nations World Government as it’s ruling body.
People in bread lines, like during the great depression, are more open to a new form of government!
President Clinton signed into law, under his emergency Presidential powers, a decree stating that in time of extreme emergency, United Nation Commanders would be placed over the Mayors of our cities to rule OUR country. This law was nearly activated on 911 when the fourth plane was apparently headed for Congress but was thwarted by the heroic efforts of the passengers on the plane.
President Clinton, while also using these emergency Presidential powers signed into law a decree stating that all National Parks were to be turned over to United Nation’s control. All United States National Parks were turned over to United Nations control on January 1st of 2000. Three months later they started limiting our access to our own parks.
President Bush has met on multiple occasions with both the Presidents of Mexico and Canada to lay out a plan to combine the governments of the United States with the Governments of Mexico and Canada, starting with the meeting on March 23, 2005 at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. After this meeting, these three Presidents drove to Baylor University to announce their signing of an agreement to form the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. (The SPP).
This agreement is the foundation for the North American Union which will combine the governments of the United States of America, Mexico and Canada. The North American Union will effectively dissolve the United States of America!
The currency for this new country will be called the Amero.
Once this equivalent of the European Union is formed the next logical step is to combine it with the European Union to form the new United Nations World government.
The United Nations has already put forward a set of plans to levy taxes on American businesses, to form it’s own army and the new UN World Court System even now claims that it has power over United States Citizens. Note: our own court judges have even recently quoted foreign law in deciding American court cases!
President Bush recently made arrangements with both Mexico and Canada to provide troops in case of an uprising of US Citizens.
One thing though: There are over 70 million gun owners in the United States with over 120 million guns and at only 200 rounds of ammunition per gun, (many have thousands), that amounts to over 24,000,000,000, 24 Billion rounds of ammunition.
Around 30 million of these gun owners are trained killers, present and former military, hunters and police.
This is the largest armed force on Earth! INTERESTING isn’t it.

MAY GOD SAVE AMERICA! Wayne J. Behrle

Posted by Wayne J. Behrle | Report as abusive
 

1. Hoss, are you really advocating the overthrow by force of arms of the US government? Because when I look in my pocket Constitution that is one of the only two acts considered to be treason against the US. So I’m guessing that all these folks who believe that the purpose of their firearms is to prevent tyranny have so little faith in the democratic process that they instead advocate, what, change of government by bloody coups like in the Third World? If you really want to live that way I suggest you go to Somalia where they really love their guns.
2. Bravo Bruno! At last some facts with some proper citations so we all can look them up and confirm them to our heart’s content instead of all this hand-waving. This is the way it should be done.
3. I know a little something about the DC sniper because I was living in the VA suburbs while that was occurring. They shot from a camouflaged location, i.e. the inside of a car’s trunk that had a loophole cut in it so they didn’t have to show any sign of their intent before acting, taking only one shot then immediately moving on. They did this mainly in MD and VA, not DC which is far too crowded and urban to escape detection easily the way they were doing it in the less dense burbs. And VA has concealed carry laws, I think MD too, yet they didn’t seem to help prevent any of those killings, now did they? And they killed someone down South on their cross-country jaunt, I believe in Alabama, another state with lax laws, but then that is really immaterial because they’d already obtained their primary weapon by then. So just exactly how would have an armed citizenry helped stop the DC sniper killings? I want to know, lay it all out for me in detail. As it was they were caught by an alert motorist who spotted their car (which didn’t look anything like the van some witnesses claimed to see) in a highway rest stop fairly far outside DC late at night who then reported it to the cops; no armed militia was involved at all other than MD state troopers.
4. As to all those other potential sources of firearms for Mexico, not one is on this continent. In fact, they’re all oceans away from Mexico. Thus it is still far easier for Mexican narcos to obtain their weapons and ammo from US sources. No US Customs and Border Patrol agents are looking in vehicles going into Mexico for guns; they’re looking for drugs and people coming back from Mexico. And the Mexican police are in fact outgunned and outfunded by their narcos (McClatchy story on that subject today). It’s not that they don’t want to do their jobs, it’s that doing their jobs can get them and their families killed. All because the US can’t curb its demand for drugs and insists on making them illegal. We had that in the US once; it was called Prohibition and it gave rise to organized crime in the US just like it does in Mexico today. So demand side economics, not supply side.
5. The gun proponents always insist that concealed and open carry keep the bad guys at bay. But they never consider the case of the bad guy who shoots first, like in California Christmas eve. Do you really believe that an armed person with malicious intent wouldn’t shoot first the first person he saw trying to pull a weapon to shoot back, even before the bad actor confirmed his intentions by shooting since until then he’s just another open carrier? It’s who shoots first who has the edge, just like in the DC sniper killings. The gun folks seem to be pushing a vision of America where everyone is always armed and always on edge for the first hint of trouble. Sounds more like Mogadishu to me than Mobile.

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive
 

Jimbo said: “5. The gun proponents always insist that concealed and open carry keep the bad guys at bay. But they never consider the case of the bad guy who shoots first, like in California Christmas eve. Do you really believe that an armed person with malicious intent wouldn’t shoot first the first person he saw trying to pull a weapon to shoot back, even before the bad actor confirmed his intentions by shooting since until then he’s just another open carrier? It’s who shoots first who has the edge, just like in the DC sniper killings. The gun folks seem to be pushing a vision of America where everyone is always armed and always on edge for the first hint of trouble. Sounds more like Mogadishu to me than Mobile.”

Just for the record, insane people are unpredictable.

Jimbo, your thought process is liner. If you have one armed man (let’s say with a Beretta 92) and 10 people unarmed people who has the advantage? The armed man has the advantage in this case because his weapon holds more rounds than there are people facing him. Now let’s say 3 of those people each have a firearm (a S&W 38 special) and let’s say the insane guy opens fire on the ten. We can even say that no one spotted him drawing the weapon. How many shots do you think he will get off before he encounters return fire? Let’s be real, Jimbo. If handguns were of no use in self protection the police would not be carrying them and the military would not be issuing them. Handguns are not assault weapons. They are close range protection. Can you stop insane people from initiating their crazy plans? No! Never! Even if you could melt down every gun in the world, you could not stop the insane intent on killing. But, you can limit the damage. You can also deter the not-so-insane criminal who normally looks for the easiest targets and you can protect yourself with a hand gun you carry with you. What you had on Christmas Eve was a lion in the middle of a heard of sheep with no shepherd to be found.

Jimbo said: “4. As to all those other potential sources of firearms for Mexico, not one is on this continent. In fact, they’re all oceans away from Mexico. Thus it is still far easier for Mexican narcos to obtain their weapons and ammo from US sources. No US Customs and Border Patrol agents are looking in vehicles going into Mexico for guns; they’re looking for drugs and people coming back from Mexico. And the Mexican police are in fact outgunned and outfunded by their narcos (McClatchy story on that subject today). It’s not that they don’t want to do their jobs, it’s that doing their jobs can get them and their families killed. All because the US can’t curb its demand for drugs and insists on making them illegal. We had that in the US once; it was called Prohibition and it gave rise to organized crime in the US just like it does in Mexico today. So demand side economics, not supply side.”

Damn Jimbo…”All because the US can’t curb its demand for drugs and insists on making them illegal.” I do not think the majority of people in this country would say they are insisting. State after state is decriminalizing pot but, the Feds are screaming. Why? Because, the peoples voice is not heard in DC. The most powerful lobbyist on Capital his is the CIA. And they along with the DEA and FBI do not want drugs to be legal. This would cut way to deep into their funding. So let’s be clear that it is the Government Bureaucracy protecting itself that is keeping certain drugs illegal through fear mongering and payola. You are correct in that the Narcos south of the boader have been armament than the Police. To say that it comes from the US may be true but it does not matter because, they would still have their arms no matter where they come from. US, China, Russia, EU it does not matter. They will get their weapons because, they have the money. Write your Representative and tell him you do not want US money going to Criminals any more and you want the Unconstitutional War on Drugs stopped. If enough people did this, they would be forced to listen or face the consequences of being voted out of office. No this will not solve all our problems but, it would put those problems legalization doesn’t solve and those it creates in the hands of responsible people.

Jimbo said “1. Hoss, are you really advocating the overthrow by force of arms of the US government? Because when I look in my pocket Constitution that is one of the only two acts considered to be treason against the US. So I’m guessing that all these folks who believe that the purpose of their firearms is to prevent tyranny have so little faith in the democratic process that they instead advocate, what, change of government by bloody coups like in the Third World? If you really want to live that way I suggest you go to Somalia where they really love their guns.”

Jimbo, do recall these words by any chance?

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…”

Yes the US government has the authority to protect itself. However, if the people feel it is not working or corrupt the People can demand a constitutional congress be called so changes can be made. Many Poly-sci Profs have been concerned that just such an event is near. If the Senate and Congress turn a deaf ear then you will have states secede and the possibility of civil war will loom. At which time those with arms will be called to service. Treason charges will be determined by who wins. If you read the Wall Street Journal you would have seen in yesterday’s edition that others believe the US is nearing such a crisis. I doubt it will actually occur but, stranger things have happened.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive
 

I apologize for not having read all the comments, but I’ve read some, and wow there’s a lot there.

I’ll try to keep my comments short.

First, as a human being I want other human beings to stop trying to take away my legal rights to own various firearms. Police officers are by the laws of physics incapable of protecting me from a criminal intent on hurting me, unless by coincidence there’s a police officer already there, and even then it’s iffy. The responsibility is mine though. I don’t want to rely on anyone else anyway. If someone tries to hurt me, I might fail at protecting myself… but that’s how life works. And it is certain that I would at least try to protect myself. A gun is a tool that might help me… and when out-spoken-anti-gun folks write things about making more guns illegal or taking more guns away from citizens like me, I get insulted and dissappointed. Guns are not the problem. People are the problem. Why not turn that energy toward dealing with bad people instead of trying to take away one of the available tools we have to protect ourselves from the people who are actually the problem.

As for how this affects mexico… I’m not sure I can say it better than the people who have already posted that it’s up to Mexico to deal with it.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive
 

These narco gangs are getting fully automatic weapons, grenades, and explosives and those are most definitely not coming from america.

There own military and police are so corrupt as to supply weapons and the killers to pull the triggers. There have been cases of Mexican military hit squads coming to the US to invade houses and kill people.

To blame this problem on the US and the citizens already restricted access to firearms is so laughable as to be a joke.

Sure, they are buying fully auto AK’s and grenades at US gunshows. Yah!

Try venezuela. The biggest supplyer of such weaponry to narco terrorists in the western hemisphere. Jose

Posted by Jose | Report as abusive
 

Perhaps they will escalate their killing of each other and eliminate the problem themselves.
All in all an irresponsible piece of journalism designed to bolster the anti-firearms faction in the U.S.
These criminals are not purchasing fully automatic weapons and grenades in the U.S.and I am guessing the ones they are “importing: have been stolen from law abiding U.S citizens.
Until we close our Southern borders and deport the illegal immigrant criminals violent Mexican drug gangs will continue to be a problem.
Mexican officials are making way too much money to ever mount an effective campaign against them.
Mexico and South America also regularly blame us for their gang violence due to our deportation of illegal alien gang members.
Bernd if you choose not to be armed that is your choice.Don’t mess with my choice to be armed.

Posted by NickinWashington | Report as abusive
 

B. Free, it is clear your grasp of the US Constitution is tenuous. And those words you quote are not in it; they are in the Declaration of Independence, which is not the supreme law of the land and in fact has no continuing legal effect. The US Constitution is (US Constitution, Art. VI, para. 2), no matter how stirring is the oratory, propaganda, and hyperbole of the Declaration. The manner of amending the Constitution is set forth in Art. V, which does not mention people demanding a constitutional convention; only two thirds majorities of all state legislatures or two thirds majorities of both houses of Congress can call for a convention proposing amendments. The people are limited to what they can get their legislators to do, and even there Art. IV, sect. 4 guarantees to each state a republican form of government, meaning representatives, not direct voting. I believe the issue of secession of states from the union was settled in 1865, but if you still have doubts I refer you to US Constitution, Art. I, sect. 10, first and third paragraphs. Treason is defined in Art. III, sect. 3, first paragraph. And considering who now owns the Wall Street Journal I don’t know that I’d believe everything it prints.

You prefer to limit the damage by retaliation; I prefer to limit it by preemption. In which case are fewer people left dead? Are only insane people unpredictable, or are you using unpredictability as an indicator for insanity? I’d say people have free will, which makes everyone unpredictable. And if you could melt down every firearm in the world (swords into plowshares, I believe the Bible calls it), you’d cut down a lot of that killing that occurs because those with intent to kill would have to find a much less easy method than simply pulling a trigger. That’s one of the reasons why police and military are issued weapons; it’s an easy way to kill and hence to gain obedience (although it doesn’t necessarily cause the other to actually change his/her mind). What would the Christmas eve lion have been able to do without his guns? Much less than he did do.

Claiming that the CIA, FBI, DIA (did I leave anyone out?) are the true forces behind preventing decriminalization borders on being a conspiracy theory. The two most powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill are the NRA and AIPAC; this is why at least the liberals in Congress prefer to keep themselves uninvolved in gun legislation (it stirs up the single-issue voters who don’t care that the economy is collapsing around them as long as they have their guns so they can steal someone else’s food), while the conservatives always embrace it, and why both always kowtow to the absolute security of Israel (as unattainable as that actually is despite their overwhelming superiority in just about every class of weaponry the two sides possess).

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive
 

Jimbo, your point #4 is my main point. I don’t even own a gun, though I was in the Marines. As far as advocating armed rebellion against an oppressive govt. – definitely. That’s what the fireworks are all about on the 4th of July.

Posted by Hoss | Report as abusive
 

Hoss, we apparently agree on the need to decriminalize possession of narcotics and hallucinogens or whatever, treat it more as a public health matter than a criminal matter, but if you insist on claiming a right to overthrow the US government by violence you’re risking spending the rest of your life in Guantanamo if that’s still open or a federal supermax prison otherwise. In the US we vote our way into power, not shoot our way in.

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive
 

In this phenomenon tearing at the Mexican social fabric and functionality of Government of Mexico (GOM) the firearms are an accoutrement, an incidental, rather than a driving influence. The cause is incredible illicit wealth, and it is aggravated by the chief influence of inherent corruption in the elite class ruling Mexico and running GOM. The corrupt conduct is systemic and generations long in its influence. I worked as a US Justice Department criminal investigator and official from 1971 until 2004. I met and mingled with GOM officials up to the immediate subcabinet level. A nation does not descend into lawless gang warfare because of weapons, but because the leadership and institutions have sold out, failed. The pretense that smuggled guns from the USA are a cause rather than affect seems silly when the full automatic AK 47 and AK 74 are principle shoulder arms in the gang wars, yet are not even present in the USA to be available to smuggle to Mexico.

Posted by james | Report as abusive
 

Why do the Yanks feel it necessary to HAVE to own more guns than some national armies?

Reliance on a 219 y/o law is twaddle – if I acted on a statute from the Middle Ages and I could (I have a book with complete English statutes from Magna Carta to 1681) I would be looked at askance. Yet 300 million yanks do exactly that – why? Look at all the kids who spray their fellow pupils with semi-auto fire – that was the meaning behind your Constitution??

The US needs to wake up!

Posted by William Fletcher | Report as abusive
 

America has two borders in North America. Why don’t we have the same problem with Canada? Maybe Canada is not corrupt. If America magical got rid of their guns tomorrow, the drug cartels would buy guns from China or Russia.

Posted by Jason | Report as abusive
 

Jimbo, I just don’t think the majority of those posting here agree with your message.

As for your take on the Constitution…If a government does not provide for peaceful change…I think you know the quote.

As for your concerns over my spouting conspiracy theory…no, just a simple matter of funding. And, if you think the NRA is the most powerful lobbyist on capital hill, man are you deluding yourself. They don’t have the money or power to be a leading lobbyist. Compared to big oil and the pharmaceuticals they are a gnat buzzing around being an annoyance at best.

And, I am aware of how the Constitution defines treason. And, I will restate, the winners try those charged with treason. Also it is not treason to call upon Congress to vote for a constitutional congress. Call upon…demand…you decide. It would take a popular movement, no doubt. But politicians usually want to keep their job and if enough “demand” was voiced I am sure such action would be taken. And if they didn’t, well, you already stated secession could never happen again and I am sure everyone agrees with you.

James, you state the simple facts. And, if all that illicit money were to dry up???

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive
 

No one is going to take MY guns, or tell me what type I amy or may not own, because of what anyone else thinks or does. End of story.

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive
 

Our government does provide for peaceful change; it just might not be the change that you want. What then? To arms? Hasn’t happened even in Zimbabwe where there is clearly an illegitimate government in place. If you want an example of a recent time when we allowed peaceful change regardless of the will of the majority I call your attention to the 2000 election where the loser obtained some half million more votes than the winner, yet the only civil unrest was that by the Brooks Brothers GOP congressional staffers who tried to intimidate (terrorize?) the Florida vote counters as they went about their work. I wonder what would have happened if they were armed? The majority of people don’t believe in evolution or plate tectonics or any number of other things that exist or occur, but facts are not determined by majority vote. Which is the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill depends on how you measure it, so this argument is pointless without some definitions we can agree on.

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive
 

Hey Jimbo, you are so close. Now, is there a difference between the rules of government set forth in the Constitution and the wills of men? If this government stops listening to the people is it still a republic? Is it still the government set forth in the US Constitution? The election of a president that was not popularly elected didn’t violate any rule set down in the Constitution. Even though I do not believe the US needs an electoral college it followed the rules. “To arms?” you are funny. As I stated, it will be the states that do the calling. Not some two bit para military org. or even me. And, as I stated before, I doubt it will happen. My reason for this position is simple, I think the American public is still to fat and happy and unwilling to see all the wrongs this government is doing. And of course the two party system allows us, when we are fed up with one abusive regime, to switch to the other abusive regime and they make it feel so good. Of course I will need to also state that I think this country does a vast amount of good in the world and at home but that is no excuse for the wrongs we commit. They don’t offset. A good citizen acknowledges the good and fights to correct the wrong. And in my opinion, my right to protect my self is inherent and good and this government should not try to limit this ability. If this is making it easier for individuals in other countries to acquire arms, then better enforce the laws regarding international trade in these arms but, do not restrict my rights. If this is being fueled by gross amounts of illicit income and for the past 50 years the country’s efforts at stopping that income have failed, maybe it is time to try a different tactic. Maybe we should take a clue from history. You know it as the XXI amendment. Repeal prohibition!

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive
 

Gun shows DO have background checks. Apparently facts do not get checked by journalist but merely repeated off hand by word of mouth. America is not responsible for the actions of Mexican citizens. Mexicans commint a huge amount of crime as far away as Canada and all over the United States. Maybe if our citizens were allowed to defend their nation against invasion both countries would see a signifigant drop in crime. Mexicans kill more Americans then Al Quada ever did or ever will. Lets focus on the real threat to us.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive
 
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