Sep 1, 2011

Mexican View on Weapons Traffic: There are accomplices

A column by Sergio Aguayo Quezada ( in Reforma, August 31, 2011. He is a professor of Political Science in the College of Mexico and a leading political columnist. 
Translated by AMB.

Savageries such as the casino fire in Monterrey are possible because there are arteries feeding the violence. We fight enemies within and without. The United States and Mexico share a culture of violence with some differences. The laws in the U.S. permit a person to acquire and carry weapons of any kind and there are organizations devoted exclusively to defend their Second Amendment. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is the most important and their literature leaves no doubt about what they want or their power.

They announce themselves to be in "permanent vigilance" to "defend" a "freedom" that they identify with the "right to keep and bear arms." They are openly belligerent. "When lawmakers take aim at our freedoms, we take aim at their (political) careers-" They have one of the more powerful Political Action Committees (PAC) in the United States. They fund campaigns of those who think like them and fight those who are different. In the 2008 elections, they presumed to involve themselves in "271 campaigns for the House and Senate." Their candidates won 85% of the elections. They are equally proud of how they fight in the courts because "when the Second Amendment is the defendent, its legal team is NRAILA." According to Fortune magazine, it is one of the 25 most influential lobbies in the United States.

It is logical that they have fiercely launched themselves against Barack Obama’s decision this August to establish controls on "multiple sale of [certain] types of rifles to the same person within a period of five days." The NRA has funded two arms dealers that have sued the federal government because they argue that to satisfy that measure would cause "irreparable damage" through "the economic loss resulting from having to pay the employee for time to prepare reports, and loss of business ". They also invoke an "irreparable loss of privacy rights" of those who buy weapons.

If Barack Obama made ​​the decision to impose such controls, it was partly because Felipe Calderon has asked for this each time that they meet, and because the Second Amendment allows Mexican cartels to acquire weapons and ammunition used in Mexico. For all of this, the NRA opposes the imposition of these controls on the 8,479 existing arms dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. In defending their rights, they thrust a dagger into us and become enemies of the peace and national security of Mexico.

The documents from the NRA that we consulted never mention Mexico and explicitly deny us the right to comment on what affects us. In a speech in July 2011, the vice president of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, proclaimed that neither the "United Nations or other external influences have the authority to interfere in [the] freedom" of Americans. In defending their freedoms, they have contributed to the deaths of 50,000 Mexicans and 80,000 Central Americans. The implicit ethnocentrism and racism are as unacceptable as our own lamentable silence.

U.S. politicians are hypocrites. When it suits them, they fight arms trafficking. During the bloody war in Southeast Asia, day and night they bombed the Ho Chi Min Trail, used by North Vietnam to supply the Vietcong. They decreed an arms embargo on Libya and have cried to the heavens about the possibility that Mexico can be used by terrorists to attack them.

No one will defend us. We fight them in a peaceful manner, for example, to change the terms of reference of the debate and make visible the massive smuggling of weapons from the U.S. to Mexico and Central America. Sometimes by action, other times by omission, our neighbors allow arms to flow that make possible the savagery that they then condemn. Not everyone is the same. A sector of American society supports us and is willing to pressure the administration of Barack Obama that does not dare to take the logical step: to decree an embargo on arms smuggling into Mexico.

The conflict will last at least another decade. We must internationalize the battle of ideas and not be shy to identify our enemies. It is common sense to require the Mexican government to halt corruption in our customs agency and to file lawsuits in the U.S. against gun shops and gun manufacturers. Unity between government and society is possible and desirable. Mexico is being attacked. We must defend it. It's time for substantial patriotism.

The literature on the NRA is huge. The documents cited are: The NRA Institute for Legislative Action, NRA-ILA, "NRA-ILA Election Activity in 2008" and the text of the application by J & G Sales and Foothills Firearms Versus Kenneth Melson, Acting Director Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, August 3, 2011.

Co-author: Rodrigo Gonzalez Peña.

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