A Call to Arms in Mexico

As government officials continue to debate whether Mexico is a failed state, the Obama administration and its allies in Congress and the media are using the dramatic spike in cartel-related violence south of the border to push for more extensive gun control in the United States.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the claim last week that, "Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police, of soldiers, and civilians."  Sadly, media already sympathetic toward gun control take such claims at face value, even when the evidence proves that the most dangerous weapons used by cartels in Mexico come from sources outside of the civilian U.S. gun market. Yes, there are small arms and ammunition being smuggled illegally into Mexico by cartels battling the authorities and each other for supremacy. Yes, many of those firearms presently come from the United States, but they are brought in by cartels that specialize in international smuggling.

If our president was an honest man he would admit that even if every last firearm and bullet in the United States magically disappeared overnight, cartel-related violence in Mexico would not abate. The same smuggling networks that bring bulky shipments of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana across the borders of multiple nations as far away as Afghanistan can easily bring in shipments of relatively compact goods such as small arms and ammunition.

The spike in violence due to heavily armed gangs in Mexico can be rectified, but not through the failed model of near-complete prohibition. Instead, Mexico should look to the more successful gun policies of a nation that overcame a far more brutal reign of gunmen. That nation is Iraq.

Iraqi culture has always been a gun culture, even during Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. Even after the coalition invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi families were allowed to keep firearms and a limited supply of ammunition for home defense. These included not just aging British colonial-era rifles, but modern firearms like AK-47 assault rifles and Glock pistols.