A recent article in the SF Chronicle goes into a disturbing statistic. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has concluded that over 90 percent of weapons confiscated by Mexican authorities originated from dealers in the United States.
Last year, 2,455 weapons traces requested by Mexico showed that guns had been purchased in the United States, according to ATF. Texas, Arizona and California accounted for 1,803 of the traces submitted by Mexican authorities.
The U.S. hosts 5000 gun shows every year in 32 states, in some, customers can skip the background check and still walk out the door with an AK-47, a .50 caliber sniper rifle, and a case of hand grenades. Along the border, the demand for weapons can be measured by the 6,700 licensed U.S. gun dealers in business near Mexico. It has become common practice for the cartels to hire buyers in the U.S. to attend gun shows or to procure from the multitude of legitimate dealers the weapons needed to take the fight to the Mexican police, and now, the Mexican military.
Some have wondered if the current level of violence in the border region could cause the failure of the Mexican state, and that soon after the same level of violence will be felt in nearby communities in the U.S. Felipe Calderon’s soldiers are 18 months into a nationwide offensive on the cartels, who have responded with unprecedented violence.
We are debating sending $1.5 billion aid package to the Mexican military, a third of that amount has already been appropriated. The Merida Initiative, as it is known, has been compared to Plan Colombia. Critics argue, that like in Colombia, the aid is too focused on military solutions and dosen’t do enough to curb the consumption of drugs in the U.S. which could be considered the primary cause of strife in both Colombia and Mexico.
As our government is arming the Mexican military, our gun laws are maintaining the arsenals of the cartels. The U.S. appetite for intoxication is a virtually endless source of revenue. Unless we are willing to look at realistic solutions, we are merely allowing a dangerous stalemate to shoot itself out on our southern border.