UPDATE – August 11, 2011: Actor Diego Luna endorsed the petition at a press conference in Mexico City, along with Javier Sicilia, Sergio Aguayo and WOLA’s Maureen Meyer. You can watch the press conference here.
On July 12, President Obama announced new regulations for arms dealers in states along the Mexican border. From now on, arms dealers will have to report to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) when they sell multiple assault rifles to a single person within a period of five days. This is a positive step toward the goal of preventing these weapons from ending up in Mexico in the hands of organized crime, which not only threatens the Mexican population, but also threatens thousands of migrants and their family members in the United States and Latin America.
Mexico has the obligation to do a better job to avoid these weapons entering the country, however the United States also has to do its part to better control who has access to these weapons, not only for solidarity with Mexico, but for the families in the United States that have links to Mexico. The weapons violence is a problem on this side of the border too. In the United States firearms violence is to blame for 20 deaths a day, causing American groups to repeatedly ask the government for stricter controls. In addition to the important step that President Obama took in July to ask for more reports from arms dealers on the border, the White House can and should take additional actions to achieve greater control.
A campaign asking for signatures that began in Mexico with the help of WOLA has listed two more important actions that President Obama can take – without needing the approval of Congress – to restrict illegal arms trafficking to Mexico. The first is to immediately prohibit the import of assault weapons from the United States that are not for the use of sporting. The second action is to expand the regulatory capacity of the ATF in regions where arms smuggling to Mexico is prevalent, especially in border states.
With these additional measures, the United States could demonstrate the alliance with Mexico that it professes so much and could show its solidarity to the thousands of families that have been victims of brutal firearm violence in Mexico and the United States. The petition to President Obama is included below.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Dear Mr. President:
The official evidence is indisputable. Between 2006 and 2010, 34,162 Mexicans have been executed (data from the Mexican government), 5,397 have disappeared, and 11,333 migrants from other countries were kidnapped between April and September of 2010 (National Commission on Human Rights, Mexico). On top of that, from 2007 to 2010, 283 U.S. citizens have been killed in Mexico (U.S. Department of State). It is believed that the majority of these acts were perpetuated for reasons linked to crime and violence.
A U.S. agency estimated that between 2004 and 2008, 84% of the arms seized on crime scenes in Mexico came from the United States. A large percentage of them were assault weapons that had been previously imported to the United States. For example, since 2006, AK-47 assault rifles manufactured in Romania have been the most commonly purchased weapons in U.S. markets with the purpose of being sent to Mexico. You have the authority to use existing legislation that prohibits the importation of weapons other than for sporting purposes – and assault weapons are not for sport.
Violence destroys lives and families, and it threatens Mexican democracy.
Mr. President, you can take three actions that do not require the approval
of the U.S. Congress:
- Immediately detain and prohibit the importation of assault weapons to the United States, because many of them are sent as contraband to Mexico.
- Order dealers to report to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) the sale of multiple assault rifles to the same person over a period of five days.
- Increase the regulatory capacity of the ATF in those regions of the United States that supply the weapons contraband to Mexico, especially in border states.
The adoption of these measures is in the best interest of your country and is a form of reaffirming your commitment to human rights.
In Mexico: Alianza Cívica, Propuesta Cívica, Cencos, Evolución Mexicana, etc.
In the United States: Global Exchange, Washington Office on Latin America, etc.