The key rhetorical question that some who want to limit our Second Amendment rights, like Piers Morgan, keep asking is: “Why does any American need an AR-15?” They ask that question because they clearly cannot imagine any circumstances under which that would be necessary. Unfortunately, however, there are many Americans who live along the southwestern border of the United States who know the answer to that question.
Their answer is in part directly due to the enforcement and immigration decisions made by the very administration that is seeking to outlaw their right to own these types of weapons.
In 2010, I met former Arizona Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever. He talked about the many problems he faced in his county with illegal border crossers and drug smugglers — Cochise County is directly on the Mexican border. Dever, who was tragically killed in an auto accident in 2012, knew many of the ranchers and others who own property along the border and have been attacked, burglarized, threatened, assaulted, and murdered by the dangerous predators crossing into the United States from Mexico.
Those include Robert Krentz. Krentz transmitted a radio message to his family about an illegal alien on his 35,000-acre ranch shortly before being murdered. Police reports said officers followed the trail of evidence 20 miles south, into Mexico, leading Dever to believe the shooter was a scout for a drug smuggling organization.
The ranch, which the Krentz family started in 1907, was within the congressional district represented by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who testified recently in favor of the so-called assault weapons ban proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
This is a problem all along the Arizona border, not just in Cochise County. One rancher in Arivaca, Arizona, Jim Chilton, told NBC News on January 25 about the dangerous drug smugglers that use his land “at will.” His home has been burglarized twice, and he and his ranch hands are constantly on the lookout for armed smugglers. He told NBC:
Can you imagine riding a horse through here on your own land and running into a guy with an AK-47 and 20 or 30 guys behind him dressed in camouflage and carrying drugs?
Chilton’s neighbor David Beckham told NBC that he finally moved his family away from his ranch because of the dangerous and numerous run-ins they’ve had with Mexican smugglers. Smugglers have even fired shots at him “while he walked his land with a U.S. Border Patrol agent.”
Both Chilton and Beckham complained about the lack of border enforcement by the Obama administration. According to the story, both the ranchers and Border Patrol agents say that the “smugglers crossing the border now are more heavily armed and confrontational than in years past.”
CBS News reported on January 13 about another Arizona rancher, John Ladd, who owns a 14,000-acre ranch along the Mexican border where his family has lived for five generations. His land is constantly crossed by drug smugglers because, as Ladd says, the southern side of the border “is all controlled by the cartel now.” At night, he and his family have to lock their doors:
You got guns laying around. You got guns in the truck. You worry about your mother, your dad, your wife. You want to live like that? I’m a rancher. I don’t want to live like that.
These problems are not limited to Arizona. Texas has similar problems. The Houston Chronicle reported in January that Texas law enforcement officials say smugglers have gotten more aggressive, and “once they are apprehended, they fight back.”
Just how vicious are these smugglers? That is an easy question to answer given the many news reports that have covered the brutal kidnappings, tortures, and murders — including beheadings — perpetrated by the drug cartels that control large parts of northern Mexico and are responsible for the trafficking of drugs and humans into the United States.
Just two years ago, 72 Mexicans who were attempting to cross over into United States illegally were “lined up and executed” on a remote Mexican ranch only 90 miles from the border by the Los Zetas drug gang for refusing to work for the gang. Over the past five years, there have been close to 50,000 drug-related murders in Mexico.
The drug cartels are not only armed with automatic weapons and machine guns supplied by corrupt Mexican officials and defecting members of the Mexican military, but they were also supplied with what Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is calling “assault weapons” and other high-capacity weapons: civilian versions of AK-47s and AR-15s, semi-automatic pistols with large magazines, and the .50-caliber rifles that are used by the U.S. military for their sniper teams.
These are the kind of weapons carried by Mexican drug smugglers who have shown no compunction whatsoever about using those weapons to kill. I doubt that an Arizona or Texas rancher out on one of his ranges who is confronted with such highly armed and dangerous smugglers would find much comfort in Vice President Joe Biden’s admonition that all they need to defend themselves is a short range, double-barrel shotgun.
When faced by a vicious member of a murderous Mexican drug cartel carrying a semi-automatic pistol with a high-capacity magazine, I doubt they would be happy to only be carrying a pistol limited to the seven rounds allowed by New York’s new law, because the government believes no American needs a high-capacity magazine.
In fact, a high-capacity magazine and an AR-15 might be the only thing standing between a rancher and his family and being assaulted or murdered by those who are crossing our border illegally. This problem has been exacerbated by the unwillingness of this administration to fully police our border, to stop illegal immigration, or to clean up the mess they made with the most reckless law enforcement operation in the history of the Justice Department, Operation Fast and Furious.
Somehow, I doubt that Sen. Feinstein, who wants to ban these types of weapons, will soon hold a field hearing in Cochise County.