Illegal U.S. Gun Trafficking to Mexico “Much Higher Than Widely Assumed”


Some 2.2 percent of U.S. gun sales are made to smuggling rings that take firearms to Mexico, a scale of illegal trafficking “much higher than widely assumed,” says an academic study reported by McClatchy Newspapers. An average of 253,000 weapons bought in the U.S. head south of the border each year, say four scholars at the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute and the Brazilian Igarape Institute. Profit margins at many gun stores are razor thin, and thousands of U.S. gun vendors would go out of business without the illicit traffic to Mexico, said Topher McDougal, an economist educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a study authors. The study adds controversy over what role U.S. weapons smugglers play in Mexico's drug violence. Mexican officials have long blamed lax gun laws in the U.S. for the availability of weapons in Mexico, which has only one gun store and considers gun ownership a privilege, not a right. The value of the annual smuggling trade is $127.2 million, says the study, “The Way of the Gun: Estimating Firearms Traffic Across the U.S.-Mexico Border.”

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