Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mexican Murders and US Guns

The “drug war” violence in Mexico has been getting an increasing amount of press in the last few days. Over 1600 murders in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, across the river from El Paso, Texas, last year alone; more than in Baghdad. Now the “spillover” into the US is big news. In the New York Times on March 22, 2009, Randal Archibold’s article “Mexican Drug Cartel Violence Spills Over, Alarming U.S” [1] talks about the increasing murders in many US cities linked to that violence; today, March 24, 2009, Enrique Krauze bemoans the characterization of Mexico as the being primarily the home of drug cartels and murderers, describing the work Mexico has done and the work of its democracy, noting that “…Nor, for that matter, did anyone ever see Al Capone and the criminal gangs of Chicago as representative of the entire country.” [2] Mr. Krauze has a point.

But, whatever the injustice of characterizing Mexico by the drug cartel murders, the big news in the US is its "spillover" here. What no one is talking about is the fact that the US gun laws (or lack thereof) is at fault; the US is an open shopping market for automatic weapons for the drug lords – not to mention home-grown criminals like Lovelle Mixon who killed 3 (may soon be 4) police officers in Oakland, California on March 21, 2009.[3] In this same week, an Arizona judge threw out a case against a gun dealer in Glendale accused of selling over 200 guns to arm cartels.[4]

Let’s get right down to it. Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people. And the US is a candy store for weapons that have no place in hunting. A large part of the blame belongs to the National Rifle Association’s intransigent stance against any regulation of firearms, including automatic weapons, and even more to the federal and state legislators who either because of their own beliefs or fear of the power of the NRA continue to do its bidding. And if they act on those beliefs, or on that fear, they have to accept the results, intended or not. Any one of those legislators or congressmen who bemoans these murders but has opposed gun control regulation should look at the blood on his/her own hands.

[1] Archibold R, Mexican Drug Cartel Violence Spills Over, Alarming U.S, NY Times, March 22, 2009
[2] Krauze E, The Mexican Evolution (Op-Ed), NY Times, March 23, 2009
[3] Healy J, 3 Officers Are Dead After Shootings in Oakland, NY Times, March 21, 2009
[4] McKinley JC, Prosecutors Seek Appeal in Dismissal of Gun Case, NY Times, March 19, 2009

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