Commentary on Mexican President Calderón's Plea for 'No More Weapons'

As we reported earlier in the week, Mexcio’s president is calling on the U.S. to stop gun trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico Border.  To drive this point home, President Felipe Calderón built a sign on the Mexican side of the Bridge of Americas that reads, in English: “No More Weapons.”  The sign, which is made from confiscated ammo clips and decommissioned arms, is visible from the U.S. border.

“We are sending a clear message from this border region: no more weapons to México,” Calderón said during the unveiling ceremony. “This way, we stress our desire and willingness to live on [sic] peace.”

Calderón wasn’t shy about placing the blame on America’s “failed gun polices” for the violence in Mexico.

“The criminals have become more and more vicious in their eagerness to spark fear and anxiety in society,” Calderón said as Mexican Army tanks crushed thousands of confiscated firearms. “One of the main factors that allows criminals to strengthen themselves is the unlimited access to high-powered weapons, which are sold freely, and also indiscriminately, in the United States of America.”

While he praised the Obama Administration efforts to deal with the “very sensitive issue” of assault weapons, noting that they’ve done more that previous administrations to investigate and block illegal arms flowing into Mexico, he maintained it wasn’t enough.

“They have taken positive steps, but we all know that unfortunately it is not enough, and we cannot stop here,” he said.

So, what’s the solution?

“We need your help to stop this violence. We need you to reduce your consumption of drugs and to dramatically reduce the flow of money to criminal organizations in Mexico,” Calderón said.

“But beyond the topic of drugs, the best way that you, the American people, can help reduce the violence in Mexico is through legislation that has already been in force in the United States, blocking the inhumane weapons trafficking into our country,” he added.

What’s telling about the Calderón solutions are the way they are worded.  The first solution, “reduce consumption of illicit drugs” is an empty platitude.  It’s an obvious point.  Of course, as a country, we need to reduce our consumption of illicit drugs.  But the real question is how do we do this?  How do we as a country address this complex and systemic problem?

There’s no easy answer to that question.  And Calderón doesn’t have one, apart from a just-do-it type of response.

So, instead, he emphasized the lowest hanging fruit in this whole debate: gun control, in particular, the reinstitution of the Assault Weapons Ban (he first asked the U.S. to renew the AWB in a 2010 speech before the U.S. Congress).

See Calderón claims that rise in drug-related violence in Mexico is directly connected with the 2004 expiration of the AWB.  This is an attractive claim to make because it has a tangible and direct solution: revive the ban!

But as has pointed out, the expiration of the AWB had little, if anything, to do with the escalation of violence in Mexico.  Instead, what is apparent from looking at both correlating and causative factors is that Calderón’s own war on drugs, which started in 2006, is the most probable cause for rise in violence.  Well-heeled and ruthless drug cartels will not go gently into that good night.

Moreover, the claim that there’s a deluge of arms flowing into Mexico from the United States is overblown.  The reality is only one third of crime guns recovered in Mexico can be traced back to the U.S.  And there are reasons to suggest that number is shrinking, not growing.

But even if we did revive the AWB and passed a bunch of other gun control measures that would supposedly cut down on gun trafficking, does anyone really believe that it would stop billion dollar drug-cartels from getting their hands on firearms?

Instead of reading “No More Weapons,” that sign should read “No More Lies.”  It’s time to be honest about the real causes of the rise in violence in Mexico.

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