Mexico is Awash with Weapons – Is the USA to Blame?

It’s been confidently reported, as of late, that the United States is the source of 90% of all the weapons utilized in Mexican crime.  This has become a dogma, repeated by no less than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others.  It’s an impressive-sounding statistic – but is it true?

In a word, no.

It’s not correct.  The 90% figure was originally based upon a misunderstanding, and thereafter it has been constantly repeated in the media and political world.

According to a spokeswoman for the ATF (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), “over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S.”

To borrow a Shakespearean expression, “there’s the rub.”

The fact that 90% of the “traced weapons” were from the U.S. was transformed in the media to the false report that 90% of the weapons used for criminal purposes in Mexico were from the U.S.

Criminals though, don’t limit themselves to using traced weapons.

According to Matt Allen, of ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), “Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market.”

Therefore, many weapons confiscated in Mexico are not even sent to the U.S. to be traced, because Mexican authorities readily recognize that they aren’t from the U.S.

According to William Newell, an ATF Special Agent, during the period of 2007-2008 Mexico sent 11,000 guns to the ATF to be traced. Of those 11,000 weapons, 6,000 were able to be traced. Of those 6,000, 90% were traced to the U.S.

But those 11,000 guns weren’t the only weapons confiscated in that time period.  In fact, from 2007-2008 Mexican authorities recovered 29,000 guns.

That means that during that time period (2007-2008) 83% of the recovered guns in Mexico were not traced to the U.S.A.

So where do all the non-US weapons in Mexico come from?

They come from all over. They are brought by sea by the boatload. They are brought overland from Central America (where weaponry galore is left over from the civil wars there).

There are weapons in Mexico from South Korea (fragmentation grenades) and China (AK-47s).  There are rocket launchers that came from Israel, Spain and the former Soviet Union.

There are Russian Mafia groups in Mexico which are sources of weapons.  The Tijuana Cartel has an alliance with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), which is another source of weapons.

A lot of weaponry comes up through Guatemala. A recent bust on that border, reported in the Guatemalan press in late March, confiscated grenades and AK-47s.

Many Mexican army deserters, of whom there have been a staggering 150,000 in the past six years, have brought their weapons with them (including M-16s).

Certainly the U.S. should do what it can to stop the smuggling of the weapons that do go from the U.S. to Mexico. A more secure border would help. But then the Mexican government doesn’t want the U.S. to control illegal immigration, and shrieks to high heaven when there is any attempt to control or reduce it.

The problem is, if you’ve got a porous border it’s going to be porous for guns, drugs and illegal crossers.  You can’t have an open border for illegal aliens and a closed border for weapons.

The American right to bear arms, based on the Second Amendment to the Constitution, has been strongly criticized in Mexico.  In 2007, Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora had this to say: “American law seems absurd to me, because … the citizens can easily acquire arms. American society lives the consequences of this on a daily basis, and it has begun to be reflected upon as a result of that Korean not long ago.” (The “Korean” reference was to the April 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.)

It’s highly questionable that Mexican gun laws have made that country a safer place. Even with stricter gun laws, Mexico actually has a higher murder rate than the U.S.

Besides, what kinds of people work for Mexican drug cartels? Are they the kind of people who care about obeying the law – any law?

Blaming U.S. gun laws for Mexican drug violence is like saying that Mexican narcos really want to obey the law – and they would if the U.S. just didn’t have that Second Amendment!

Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.