In the last four years, the U.S. has prosecuted more than 380 cases of gun smuggling to Mexico. The Christian Science Monitor says the source of the weapons used in Mexico’s drug violence, which has claimed more than 7,000 lives since last January, is emerging as a controversial – issue in the relationship between the two countries. U.S. and Mexican officials have reached an unprecedented agreement, including plans to create a shared ballistics database to track weapons used in crimes, and X-ray scans of southbound trains.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives says more than 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico that can be traced, originated in the U.S. Gun-rights advocates say the 90 percent figure is exaggerated; only about one-third of the arms seized are handed over to the ATF to be traced. National Rifle Association lobbyist Chris Cox believes some people in the U.S. are overstating the figure for political aim. “[Second Amendment rights] aren’t going to be used as a scapegoat for the mayhem that’s happening in Mexico,” he says. “The idea that if we pass one more gun law in the U.S., these cartels are going to put their guns away – if it wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable.” Cox says Salvadoran gunrunners, Mexican Army deserters, and the global underground arms markets involving Chinese, Russian, and U.S. military arms are just a few of the ways that Mexican criminals acquire weapons.