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Mexico and guns: how do you stop the outgoing tide?

Post by Brian O'Neill on March 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm with 32 Comments »
March 6, 2011 9:20 pm

In an AP article printed in Sunday’s Trib, we learned about the massive amount of firearms that daily cross our borders into the killing fields of Mexico. Using AP figures and a calculator, as many as 133,225 guns are smuggled from the U.S. into Mexico every year, while in 2010 federal agents (Customs, Border Patrol, ATF) seized a paltry 2,912.

In other words, for every 45 American guns approaching the Mexican border, only one gets seized.

No wonder our southern border, despite billions of Homeland Security dollars, is routinely referred to as porous. Commerce flows freely in both directions between our nations, with guns flowing south and drugs flowing north. For business-savvy cartels, this has evolved into an elegant bartering system; for the people of both nations, it has become a parasitic and crippling reality.

The recent increase in news reports on Mexican gun trafficking, however, is a direct result of the brutal murder of Homeland Security Special Agent Jaime Zapata. His death, attributed to a cartel hit man, was carried out using an AK-47 assault rifle traced–little surprise here–to a gun store in Texas.

Special Agent Zapata’s murder, however tragic, is just a single digit in the thousands of deaths occurring each year in a country beset by cartels battling over the multi-billion dollar U.S. addiction to illegal narcotics. Those numbers, because they are Mexican numbers, never receive the full weight of our attention. Also missing from mainstream news is the fact that cartels are quick to bypass a simple killing when mass murders, involving mutilations, beheadings and atrocities, are better suited to making their point.

Regardless of whether you are aware of the level of violence, there remains the simple question of what we are capable of doing about this problem.  “You’ve got to stop them [guns] from going into Mexico,” says Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

That is not an answer to the question. The fact remains that we have yet to find a workable answer under our system of laws.

By now most Americans recognize that the presence of firearms in our society is a fact of life. Whether we agree or not, the constitutional right to bear arms has withstood repeated attempts to lessen or dismantle it. This legal framework, molded by the writers of the Constitution and continually defined by our courts, allows almost anyone to purchase massive quantities of semi-automatic handguns and rifles.  Many of these firearms then transit our southern border, at about a 98% success rate, straight into the hands of drug cartels.

Perhaps at some point, should the violence on our souther border persist (which it will) and spill across to the U.S. (which it has) we might finally be forced to revisit the question that incites a certain minority of Americans, energizes the National Rifle Association, and scares politicians into the fetal position.

How easy should it be to obtain a firearm?

My take
Leave a comment Comments → 32
  1. UnbiasedReporter says:

    Maybe we should start with the ATF

    ATF Let Hundreds of U.S. Weapons Fall into Hands of Suspected Mexican Gunrunners

    Whistleblower Says Agents Strongly Objected to Risky Strategy

    Hoping to score a major prosecution of Mexican drug lords, federal prosecutors and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives permitted hundreds of guns to be purchased and retained by suspected straw buyers with the expectation they might cross the border and even be used in crimes while the case was being built, according to documents and interviews.

    The decision — part of a Phoenix-based operation code named “Fast and Furious” — was met by strong objections from some front-line agents who feared they were allowing weapons like AK-47s to “walk” into the hands of drug lords and gun runners, internal agency memos show. Indeed, scores of the weapons came back quickly traced to criminal activity.

  2. Interesting Unbiased. I wonder what our cop reporter thinks about the article.

  3. Brian O'Neill says:

    Though I am not a reporter, I would like to recognize the issue behind the ATF investigation. Many such investigations, whether involving drugs, property or guns, are allowed to play out over time in order for investigators to climb the ladder to the top of the criminal hierarchy. Obviously the risks are greater with firearms, especially when they might wind up in the possession of a gang member or cartel enforcer. Though it would be unfair to judge the operation without all the information, I believe most of us would like to see such decisions weighted on the side of safety.

    Still, hundreds of guns? We’re talking hundreds of thousands.

  4. Ban semi-auto weapons of all kinds; manufacture, sale, importation and possession. That’s a beginning. Most of the ammunition is special so it can also be banned.

  5. Surely none of this is connected to drug prohibition…

  6. Objective says:

    We know the AP is anti-gun. Granted we have the border patrol, trying to keep up with such a mess. This has been a sore issue for a lot of people. Unfortunately it has been more talk than action. I would like to see the border locked down, at least until this mess is sorted out and or cleaned up.

    How does the AP come up with the number of weapons crossing over to Mexico? Is the AP a part of the problem? I tried myself using a calculator and figuring out how they came up with 133,225 along with the 2,912 the BATFE confiscated along with the one rifle linked to Texas. It did not add up. I wonder how many Cartel members there actually are in Mexico? Are there hundreds of thousands? A million? More? How many weapons has the U.S. Government given the Mexican Govt, which ended up in cartel hands?

    The AP is also wanting all the names of gun owners in Illinois to be made public. That would include name, address and what they have. Would they be willing to come up with a list of names, addresses of non-gun owners? Is the AP trying to link gun owners in Illinois to an unknown number of guns going to Mexico? Enough said here, the AP does not carry enough credibility with me on this subject.

  7. BRIAN O’NEILL = brain dead. To boil down his rant. Our Second Amendment is the root cause of Mexican violence. Does he get paid more when he pegs the stupid meter at imbecile?

    The real question and issuer he avoids is; How to help curb drug addiction in the United States? Address this problem first, then worrying about the ease of purchasing firearms to smuggle to Mexico becomes a non-issue.

  8. Brian, welcome to the club. You have earned your “gun nut target” credentials.
    Anyone who comes up with a reasoned argument for more gun control in America quickly earns his “wings” with a response something like the one you got from camas.
    Laugh it off and keep on keeping on. Join the Brady Campaign. Send them money. Hope and pray that one of the conservative Justices retires while President Obama is still in office. We’ll get that 2nd Amendment right sooner or later.

  9. BlaineCGarver says:

    First, I really doubt that an AK47 was purchased from a gun store, since Automatic weapons are not for the general public. Not that you can’t find and buy them, but it should not need another law further restricting the Second Amendment.
    @ PubicCo: I personally invite you to try to take my weapons away from me. You will have better luck getting minorities to return to the back of the bus than you wil depriving Americans of their mostly unrestricted right to own firearms. I invite Readers to Google Kennasaw, Georgia and see what happened thirty years ago when the town made if mandatory for every head of household that could legally own a firearm to do so. Crime diminished to a record low and stayed there.
    Take care messing with the Bill of Rights..they were created as a package and they all need each other to work properly.

  10. Blaine Baby, If you have a gun in your possession that is someday declared illegal, then you become a criminal if you refuse to give it up.
    In an admittedly perverse sort of way it does make me happy to see you squirm a little about that.

  11. BlaineCGarver says:

    I’m not surprised to see you overjoyed at the thought of disolving the Bill of Rights. BTW, just keep having those happy’s about all you’re good for is thinking about stuff. Molon Labe, Bro…..

  12. Maybe the President of Mexico should close the border….. To protect his people from the evil americans…

  13. A real wall would be a great start. Kinda slows the flow of stuff both ways. Illegals and drugs-slowed down coming north, guns slowed down going South. Beef up our border security. Maybe Obama can consider it “helping” Mexico and get behind it, cuz he sure isn’t interested in doing anything to “help” the US. Give him a politically correct way to lock those borders down. Solve/severely reduce 3 problems just by making the border 50x’s harder to illegally get across.

  14. hortonpeak says:

    I do not really care about the entire gun issue. But, to everyone out there, you can have as many guns as you wish to protect your “castle”. However, you start carrying heat in public then it to becomes my problem. My experience has been that overwhelming those carrying heat in public are a bunch of Rambo wantabes. Leave them home – no problem. Carry in public and we have problems. Oh, nevermind, the concept is to complicated. Oh, no drug problem in the US, no problem with the cartels selling drugs. We, the US, whether guns or drugs, are the problem. Everything else is a symptom. Cheers.

  15. Publico, your desire to criminalize people who you disagree with is, well, disgusting.

    “Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote. Those rights are spelled out in the Bill of Rights and in our California Constitution. Voters and politicians alike would do well to take a look at the rights we each hold, which must never be chipped away by the whim of the majority.”

  16. “BlaineCGarver says:
    March 7, 2011 at 4:30 pm
    I’m not surprised to see you overjoyed at the thought of disolving the Bill of Rights.”
    Your warped take on what I proposed does not make you correct. Where did I say we should dissolve the Bill of Rights? The only way you can make a point is to exaggerate and lie about what I wrote. It is a typical ploy from someone who does not know what he is talking about and has no cogent answer.

  17. Tummler, tell that story to the US Supreme Court that by a simple vote of nine people overturned decades of law regarding the interpretation of the 2nd amendment. And while you are at it where did I criminalize anyone who was obeying the law?
    Your anecdote is old and tired and not applicable to a constitutional republic.
    Liberty is alive when the most people to have the most control over their lives. You do not give people more control over their lives by reducing their real income, increasing their fears of unemployment, exposing them to greater risk of accident, threatening to take away their health care, lowering how much income they receive relative to society’s most well off , allowing their talents to be overlooked for purely arbitrary reasons of race and gender, and making them more dependent in their last years.
    Guns only have a negative impact. They are designed to kill and that is anathma to freedom and liberty.

  18. “Join the Brady Campaign. Send them money. Hope and pray that one of the conservative Justices retires while President Obama is still in office. We’ll get that 2nd Amendment right sooner or later.”

    “Blaine Baby, If you have a gun in your possession that is someday declared illegal, then you become a criminal if you refuse to give it up.
    In an admittedly perverse sort of way it does make me happy to see you squirm a little about that.”

    : the quality or state of being free: a : the power to do as one pleases b : freedom from physical restraint c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges e : the power of choice
    2a : a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant : privilege b : permission especially to go freely within specified limits
    3: an action going beyond normal limits: as a : a breach of etiquette or propriety : familiarity b : risk, chance c : a violation of rules or a deviation from standard practice d : a distortion of fact
    4: a short authorized absence from naval duty usually for less than 48 hours

    1: the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence c : the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous d : ease, facility e : the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken f : improper familiarity g : boldness of conception or execution h : unrestricted use
    2a : a political right b : franchise, privilege

    I guess I’ll just have to disagree with your definition of freedom and liberty. I’m free to do as you say? Give me a break.

  19. Tummler, just as I thought, your definition of freedom or liberty leaves out the part about “as long as it does not interfere with the liberty and freedom of another person.”
    You can do as you please as long as it does not infringe the freedom and liberty of others. That’s what my definition is really about.

  20. BlaineCGarver says:

    Pubico sez: You can do as you please as long as it does not infringe the freedom and liberty of others. That’s what my definition is really about.

    I say: Oh, really? Except for the Second Amendment. Hmmmm? And don’t call me a liar, AxxHole. Why don’t you man up and take your place among those that would do their duty if called upon? Or, just stay back with the cowards, and the men do your work for you. In the past, in the bad old days, people took it to the streets when they were getting screwed by the Gubment, so why do you think anything has changed?

  21. Publico would sit in his entitlement -provided, theoretical “ivory tower” environment and constantly reconsider the “morality” of throwing beanbags at intruders..
    But if he was away from home, he would not carry his
    Brady-bunch-bean bags because as everyone knows, criminals always register their single-shot bean bags, and don’t ever bother people in public…
    just ask the widow of the Border Patrol agent who was the victim of the same idiotic administration policy that Publico deems “fittingly civilized”.
    Publico’s bean bags are all in his Utopian little mind…
    The right of individual self defense is “endowed by our Creator” regardless of the opinion of the “Nasty Nine” or the whim of executive orders.
    Sleep on…Publico.

  22. Wow! The warped logicians are out today. Garver thinks I would deny him his freedom by taking away his guns with the 2nd amendment unchanged. Wrong. It still is the law. I suggest changing the law to which everyone would be obligated to obey. When you accuse me of dissolving the Bill of Rights you lie. Grow up and take it like a man.
    And larsman thinks self defense will still be foremost in his mind even when the most the lethal guns disappear from our society. What a joke. Fewer guns means fewer deadly confrontations. It can be no other way.
    Tell me about the details of the border patrol agent you mention. I want to learn about the failed policy that caused his death.

  23. “Tummler, just as I thought, your definition of freedom or liberty leaves out the part about “as long as it does not interfere with the liberty and freedom of another person.”
    You can do as you please as long as it does not infringe the freedom and liberty of others. That’s what my definition is really about.”

    “It still is the law. I suggest changing the law to which everyone would be obligated to obey.”

    I smell a troll…

  24. scott0962 says:

    Instead of pushing to disarm law abiding Americans why haven’t those concerned about violence in Mexico pushed for better border enforcement–in both directions? Answer: because they’re pushing a political agenda (disarming America) and they’re not really conccerned about what or who comes in or out of our borders.

    If we seal our border to arms trafficking or eliminate all the guns in the U.S. would that stop the Mexican cartels from obtaining arms? No. They have enormous amounts of cash and a network for smuggling illicit material into Mexico so it isn’t a great stretch of the imagination to assume that they would simply get their weapons elswehere. It might cost a little more or be a little less convenient but so what? Guns are the tools of maintaining their power and they will do whatever it takes to secure them.

  25. From his last It looks like Tummler gave up. That is what happens when the logic gets down to the nitty-gritty.

  26. BlaineCGarver says:

    Publico, the Bill of Rights are not “laws” to be changed. They apply to all living men, and were merely enumerated by the Bill. The Bill of Rights is not dynamic and should not change, despite what activist SCOTUS judges think. If you would seriously like to engage in a discussion about Gun Laws, please email me.

  27. Thank you for the confirmation Publico. I will know in the future not to feed you.

  28. BCG, it is the interpretation that needs changing and if that requires a couple strategically placed commas then the rest can remain unchanged.
    The individual right to bear arms is made up and is not universal. It has no bearing on God given freedom and liberty and unalienable rights except for the fact that it has been INTERPRETED that way by 5 of 9 Justices.
    Tummler’s posts show confusion. I cannot help without more information.

  29. wyecoyote says:


    Claim what you want and belive what the anti rights bradey campaign wants you to belive. However, all 5 pre Heller and McDonald agreed that the 2nd amendment was an indivdual right and a restriction on the federal government.

    As to the the original editorial. I noticed that you failed to mention that Jaimie Zapata was killed by a gun purchased and let walk under Project Gunrunner. The rifles at the scene were traced directly back to the BATFE allowing those to go across the border and another 2,500 or so firearms. The numbers sighted by the AP article are directly suspect due to the fact that the group that published them have not stated how they came about those numbers. It’s a “trust us” number.

    Really want to stop the carnige on the border then legalize drugs which would wipe out the illicit money involved in the drug trade. Much like prohibition did during the 1920’s.

  30. Objective says:

    By the way, I finally figured out how the AP came up with 133,225 guns. They figured there are 365 guns crossing over to Mexico 365 days a year.

    So, 365 x 365= 133,225

  31. “Tom Crowley, spokesman for the AFT’s Dallas division, insists that at no time did weapons involved in the Dallas division’s Gunrunner operations ever make it across the border.”
    The investigation continues and wyecoyote’s statement is premature.
    Legalizing drugs to add to society’s problems is not the answer.

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