Thursday, March 1, 2012

U.S. guns play key role in Mexico's raging drug war, says president Felipe Calderón

Calderón again calls for renewal of U.S. Assault Weapons Ban

*Updated Apr. 27, 2013*
The U.S. Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) was a federal law which for 10 years prohibited the manufacture (for civilian use) of certain types of semi-automatic firearms, generically referred to in the statue as "assault weapons." A semi-automatic firearm is one which requires a separate pull of the trigger for each cartridge discharged. In contrast, a firearm which is fully automatic is commonly known as a machine gun, and requires nothing more than continuous pressure on the trigger to fire multiple rounds instantaneously. Both types of weapons are used by combat troops around the world. In Mexico they are reserved exclusively to military forces. Possession of automatic or semi-automatic firearms by private individuals in Mexico is a serious crime punishable by many years in prison.

Prior to the AWB's enactment "assault weapons" had not been specifically defined in the United States. The 10-year ban was passed by Congress on September 13, 1994, and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton the same day. The ban only applied to weapons manufactured after the date of enactment, so anyone who already owned an assault weapon did not have to surrender it. One of the results (if not intended purposes) of the AWB was to artificially drive up the retail purchase price of such firearms.

The Assault Weapons Ban automatically expired on September 13, 2004, in accord with its sunset clause. There have been multiple attempts to renew it, but all of them have been thwarted due to opposition by gun rights activists and their powerful lobbyists in Congress.

In public remarks today Mexican president Felipe Calderón told an audience that in the 63 months since his National Security Strategy was implemented on Dec. 1, 2006, well over 100,000 firearms have been seized by Mexican armed forces from drug traffickers, cartels and other criminals. He said that about 84,000 of those weapons were made or sold in the United States, which he attributes in large part to the expiration of the AWB almost eight years ago. Calderón frequently addresses the topic at public forums.

On November 1, 2011, an assistant U.S. attorney general told Senator Dianne Feinstein (D. Calif.), that of the then approximately 94,000 weapons seized by Mexican troops since the anti-cartel offensive began, at least 64,000 could be directly traced back to the United States. That number represented about 68%, but Mexico claims that 80% of all firearms it seizes from drug traffickers come from the United States.

Two weeks ago 100,000 weapons were destroyed by the Mexican army at a special event presided over by president Calderón. He spoke directly to the U.S. at the event, saying "Dear friends in the United States - please, no more assault weapons to Mexico."

July 22 - U.S. weapons laws hurt everybody. In the wake of the Aurora, Colorado shootings which left a dozen theater patrons dead and many more injured, Calderón issued a message of condolence on behalf of all Mexicans. But he again urged the U.S. Congress to reconsider "mistaken gun legislation" which poses a "threat to all."

Apr. 27, 2013 - Former Mexican president Felipe Calderón, who now holds an academic chair at Harvard, participated in an internet forum yesterday in which he said, "I didn't declare the drug war." Calderón told his audience that when the U.S. Assault Weapson Ban expired nine year ago, violence exploded in Mexico.

Dec. 17, 2012 - The Second Amendment, NRA leave their mark in Mexico
May 17, 2012 - Struggle against drug cartels, organized crime will be Calderón's legacy
Dec. 30, 2011 - Calderón drug war strategy has been the right one
Nov. 16, 2011 - Opinion: In drug war, boundaries and "national sovereignty" mean nothing

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