Gun Smuggling on the Border

By Heather Arkwright – Migration Intern
December 16, 2011

Illegal gun smuggling in Mexico fuels extreme violence and claims many lives.  Over the past five years more than 40,000 people have been killed in Mexico’s drug war, and many of the guns involved in this war are smuggled over the United States border.

A recent congressional report found that 70 percent of the weapons seized in Mexico in 2009 and 2010 that were submitted for tracing came from the United States[1].  Now, courageous families all over Mexico are standing up in their communities as part of a growing movement to end the violence, culminating in a bi-national initiative that puts pressure on the U.S. government to enforce gun smuggling laws[2].

The initiative was launched on May 8, 2011 in Mexico as part of the Movement for Peace to stop the flow of arms across the border.  A petition to President Obama, coordinated by Alianza Civica in Mexico, and Global Exchange and the Washington Office on Latin America in the United States, was created.  The petition asks President Obama to enforce the existing ban on the importation of military-style assault weapons, many of which are later illegally smuggled into Mexico and used to carry out violence.  The petition includes requiring gun dealers to report to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives the sale of multiple assault rifles to the same person over a period of five days, and strengthening legal enforcement in regions of the U.S. that supply the bulk of the contraband weapons smuggled into Mexico.

The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach has signed the petition and sent out an action alert urging others to do the same. At last count, nearly 30,000 people had signed this bi-national petition that would help bring peace to both the U.S. and Mexico.