Outlaws with guns


Tomorrow Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will visit Mexico to discuss ways to halt the flow of guns across the border. Mexico has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, but its drug cartels are armed with high-powered weapons smuggled over the border from the United States. More than 6,000 people have died in Mexican drug wars since 2006.

Caveat: I do not own a gun, and never have. The only gun I've ever shot was a BB gun, and yeah, it was fun to hit the tin can. Many of my friends are gun owners, gunsmiths, collectors and hunters, and I support the right to bear arms -- up to a point. But we're far beyond that point in this country, and the Second Amendment has been used and abused to defend an absolute right for anyone to purchase any number of killing machines. We see the results of that paranoia-with-a-weapon play out on U.S. streets, schools, post offices, businesses and campuses every day, resulting in more than 30,000 gun deaths a year, about a third of them suicides.

 Mexican President Felipe Calderon said this week there is a correlation between Mexico's drug violence and the end of the U.S. ban on sales of assault weapons (the ban expired in 2004). Ninety percent of the guns confiscated in Mexico come from the United States.

In February, the New York Times reported:

In 2007, the firearms agency traced 2,400 weapons seized in Mexico back to dealers in the United States, and 1,800 of those came from dealers operating in the four states along the border, with Texas first, followed by California, Arizona and New Mexico.

Last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she -- like President Barack Obama -- would like to see the assault weapon ban reinstated, but acknowledged many in Congress would resist it.

National Rifle Association lobbyist Chris Cox drug out the old when-guns-are-outlawed-only-outlaws-will-have-guns argument, saying Mexico's gun laws have not stopped criminals from obtaining firearms, but leave "many of the honest residents of Mexico defenseless."

Meanwhile, people in the U.S. continue to purchase guns -- including assault weapons -- at alarming rates.  A spokesman for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent that the agency is running 1,000 background checks for gun purchases per day, as opposed to 300 per day a year ago.

HCN's editor Jonathan Thompson offered an argument for legalizing drugs as a step toward stopping narco-violence along the border. I doubt that's the solution that Napolitano and Holder will advocate. And I doubt that enough legislators have the courage to stand up to a gun lobby using Second Amendment as the basis for "the right" to purchase assault weapons.

So the border wars will continue, with increasing militarization, taller fences, more dogs and more lives lost. And more people in this country will purchase more weapons of destruction for "protection."