By Axel Caballero and Kristel Mucino*
The tragedy in Colorado demonstrated the devastating lethality of AR-15 type guns, like the one used in the Aurora shooting, and has caused many to question whether it makes sense to allow the purchase of military-style assault rifles. What a lot of people don’t know is that these rifles are also the weapons of choice among ruthless Mexican drug cartels. In the last 6 years, over 60,000 people have lost their lives in Mexico’s wave of violence.
The failure of the United States to enact meaningful gun regulation is not only affecting the United States; it is also fueling violence in Mexico. Among the victims are countless innocent bystanders, journalists, and children. The brutal truth is this–the AR-15s and many other guns used by drug lords, gangs, and kidnappers come from the United States.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), more than 70 percent of the weapons seized in Mexico in the last three years and submitted for tracing came from the United States.
How do these weapons end up in the hands of Mexico’s brutal drug lords? Look at the video on gun trafficking produced by WOLA and Cuéntame:
Straw purchasers take advantage of lax U.S. gun laws and, in most states, can buy 10, 20 or even more guns in one transaction, with the intention of reselling them to gun traffickers. In contrast, it is almost impossible to buy firearms legally in Mexico.
But on the U.S. side of the border, in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, there are more than 8,000 federally licensed firearms dealers.