The failed prosecution of an Arizona gun dealer for selling arms that ended up in Mexico raises questions about the difficulties of stemming the gun trade in the Southwest, says the Washington Post. The abiding appreciation for firearms runs especially deep in Arizona and Texas, which span 80 percent of the 2,000-mile border. “They’re talking about doubling the amount of ATF attention, but there remains a bewildering set of sometimes competing rules and regulations that surround weapons,” said Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.
There are 200 ATF agents assigned to the area, which has 7,000 retailers licensed to sell firearms. An ATF official in Arizona said U.S. authorities need to train and vet more counterparts in Mexican law enforcement to help build major investigations. Only a few hundred contacts are trusted now. Buyers for cartels have left Arizona gun shows with “15 AK-47s slung over their shoulders” said ATF agent Thomas Mangan. That brazenness was inhibited by a flurry of arrests, Mangan said. What gun-control advocates call “the gun show loophole” remains firmly in the matrix of laws that reflect the libertarian traditions of the West and the vigilance of firearms enthusiasts toward their Second Amendment rights.