WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
9 Apr 2013 | Commentary | News

Four Facts about Gun Legislation and Cartel Violence in Mexico

The U.S. Senate is debating several proposals to prevent gun violence, including universal background checks, stiffer penalties for gun trafficking, a ban on assault weapons, and a ban on high-capacity magazines.

In addition to helping to prevent gun violence in the United States, these reforms will help stop illegal gun trafficking to Mexico and will keep guns out of the hands of drug cartels.

Here are four facts about illegal gun trafficking to Mexico:

1. Mexican drug cartels get most of their guns from the United States. Seventy percent of guns recovered in Mexico and submitted for tracing between 2007 and 2011 came from the United States. The reasons are obvious: it is almost impossible to legally purchase a gun in Mexico, but there are more than 8,000 gun dealers in the U.S. border states. Mexican drug cartels can easily acquire guns in the United States through straw purchasers or at gun shows.

2. Gun traffickers attempted to smuggle 250,000 guns into Mexico between 2010 and 2012, according to a recent study by the University of San Diego. Only about 15 percent of these guns were intercepted.

3. Drug-related violence continues to devastate communities in Mexico. More than 60,000 people been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006, and there were nearly 1,000 executions in the first month of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term. U.S. citizens have also been victims of violence in Mexico; the State Department reported that more than 100 U.S. citizens were murdered in Mexico in 2011.

4. The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013, which is part of the proposed package of legislation, specifically prohibits smuggling guns out of the United States.

The President of the American Prosecutors Association, David LaBahn, recently stated that “due to the lack of a dedicated federal statute prohibiting illegal gun trafficking, large numbers of guns are diverted from legitimate commerce into the criminal marketplace every year.”