Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Our Opinion: Guns: our most deadly export

U.S. weapons are as much a part of border violence as smuggled drugs from Mexico

Soldiers stand guard during a November presentation of weapons seized during an operation against the Gulf  cartel in Mexico City.

Soldiers stand guard during a November presentation of weapons seized during an operation against the Gulf cartel in Mexico City.

In our rush to erect walls and beef up the Border Patrol to keep people and drugs from being smuggled into the United States from Mexico, we have overlooked an equally important problem:

The vast quantities of guns smuggled from the United States into Mexico – guns largely responsible for the massive increase in violence on both sides of the border.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón recently said his police and military are dangerously outgunned as they go after powerful drug cartels. Over the past two years, about 800 law enforcement officials have been slain. And almost all of the weapons used in those murders are coming from the United States.

That allegation was supported by the U.S. State Department, which reported that guns bought or stolen in the United States were used in 95 percent of the 6,290 drug-related murders in Mexico last year and the more than 1,000 killings so far this year.

This is not a Second Amendment issue, which protects the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms. The U.S. should aggressively enforce current gun laws to keep weapons in the hands of law-abiding Americans.

The United States and Mexico are the closest of friends – but in some ways, we also are the worst of enemies.

Mexico is the leading source of drugs brought into the United States, and Americans are eager customers. And it is American drug users who finance the cartels, which are becoming so violent they pose a real security threat to the United States.

Last December, top officials in the Bush administration pledged that the U.S. would supply more money, training and equipment to help Mexico crack down on drugs.

That hasn’t worked. Instead, the Obama administration should follow through on promises by Attorney General Eric Holder to enforce a long-ignored ban on importing assault-style weapons. Many are illegally resold and shipped to Mexico.

Raul Yzaguirre, executive director of the Center for Community Development and Civil Rights at Arizona State University recently wrote in the Tucson Citizen about the difficult relationship between the United States and Mexico:

“Mexico’s drug lords give law-enforcement authorities and anyone else who stands in their way a choice: ‘plomo o plata.’ Literally, lead or silver. (The lead is meant for the whole family.)

“Mexico may be supplying the drugs, but Americans are providing the lead and the silver.”

Yes, Mexico must do more to keep its drugs and people from illegally entering the United States. But we are neighbors who share a property line, and the United States has the same responsibility to keep guns from illegally entering Mexico.

Each nation must get its house in order. The safety of people on both sides of the border is at stake.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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