U.S. gun laws and corruption wreak havoc in Mexico

Small Arms Survey estimated that there are around 16,800 million weapons in the country

U.S. gun laws and corruption wreak havoc in Mexico
An anti air-craft machine gun, the first weapon of its kind seized in Mexico in 2009 - Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/AP
English 14/03/2019 09:12 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:22
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Only two weeks after taking office as Brazil's President, Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree that facilitates the access to weapons to Brazilians. During the presidential campaign, the far-right conservative considered that the measure was key to control the high crime rates. Nevertheless, experience has shown other results. The United States, a country that has a total permissiveness in regards to gun ownership, is also a country where mass shootings take place often, where dozens of people are killed by people who own high-caliber weapons.

Yesterday, an incident took place in Brazil, which was similar to the attacks that take place in the U.S. often: two former students entered the school and shot students and workers. They killed at least 8 people before committing suicide. The tragedy can't be attributed to the new flexibility to acquire weapons, implemented by Bolsonaro two months ago, but it is a reminder that these attacks take place when there are scarce restrictions for society to acquire weapons.

In Mexico, there are strong restrictions against the acquisition of weapons but criminal bands can easily obtain hundreds of weapons on armories located in the U.S. border and transport them to Mexico by bribing corrupt officials. Other criminals also have relatively easy access to guns in the black market.

Although it is difficult to calculate the number of illegal weapons, last year, the organization Small Arms Survey estimated that there are around 16,800 million weapons in the country, 85% of them are illegal.

In order to fight the illegal possession of weapons, Mexican authorities organize disarmament campaigns, which no longer have positive results. In 2013, citizens handed over 31,506 weapons but in 2018, only 4,443 weapons were handed over. Tolerating the illegal flow of weapons, without a strategy to contain it, can allow for a higher number of homicides and alter security in cities where authorities are permissive when it comes to fighting arms trafficking.

Encouraging society to arm itself legally like in the case of the United States or Brazil, or illegally, like in the case of Mexico, represents the authorities' claudication to solve the structural causes behind crime and insecurity.

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