Friday, May 25, 2018

America spreads its gun mania, an infectious disease, to Mexico

As I posted yesterday, America’s love of guns is a sickness that results in 55 times more fatalities than in other developed countries. Rather than treating that sickness, America tolerates mass shootings in its K–12 schools that result in the murders of its children. In terms of the stages of grief model, our country is in acceptance, content to offer thoughts and prayers rather than to seek effective treatments for that sickness.

Yes, I do mean to characterize the nation’s love of guns as an infectious disease. Like other contagions, it respects no borders. As evidence, I offer an item from the 538’s Significant Digits email.

1 gun store
There’s only one place to officially buy guns in Mexico, and it’s on a military base. Yet gun violence is on the rise in the country. So where are the guns coming from? Mexico’s northern neighbor. An estimated 580 weapons illegally move from the U.S. to Mexico every day. Compare that to the 38 guns that the country’s sole gun store sells every day. [The Los Angeles Times]

The LA Times investigates in its report, There is only one gun store in all of Mexico. So why is gun violence soaring?.

The only gun shop in all of Mexico is behind a fortress-like wall on a heavily guarded military base.

To enter the Directorate of Arms and Munitions Sales, customers must undergo months of background checks — six documents are required — and then be frisked by uniformed soldiers.

The army-run store on the outskirts of Mexico City embodies the country’s cautious approach to firearms, and a visit here illustrates the dramatically different ways two neighboring countries view guns, legally and culturally.

Like the 2nd Amendment in the United States, Mexico’s Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, but it also stipulates that federal law “will determine the cases, conditions, requirements and places” of gun ownership. For many Mexicans, even those who love guns, the thought of an unfettered right to owning one is perplexing.

… About 70% of guns recovered by Mexican law enforcement officials from 2011 to 2016 were originally purchased from legal gun dealers in the United States, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Most trafficked guns are purchased in the U.S. from one of the country’s more than 67,000 licensed gun dealers or at gun shows, which unlike stores often do not require buyers to present identification or submit to background checks.

Hugo Gallegos Sanchez, 32, a police officer in Mexico City, decided to purchase a handgun at the store for personal use because he was concerned about rising crime.

“You need protection,” Gallegos said.

He spent months waiting for his paperwork to be approved, but said he was happy to wait. Proper screening for gun owners is important, said Gallegos, who said he also supports Mexico’s ban on heavy assault weapons.

“A civilian shouldn’t be able to have the same power as the military,” he said.

What is the US doing to stop the spread of our disease to Mexico?

President Enrique Peña Nieto brought the issue up at a news conference with Trump shortly before the 2016 presidential election, blaming the influx of U.S. firearms for “strengthening the cartels and other criminal organizations that create violence in Mexico.” Candidates vying to replace him in Mexico’s July 1 presidential race are also using it as a rallying cry.

Instead of threatening walls, instead of threatening to militarize the border, we demand that they stop the flow of arms from the United States to Mexico,” Ricardo Anaya of the National Action Party said recently in the violence-ridden border state of Tamaulipas.

[Gun control advocates on both sides of the border] are also concerned about a new Trump administration proposal to deregulate the export of American guns by putting the Commerce Department in charge of the application process instead of the State Department, which advocates say is better suited to weigh the possible risks of firearm sales against any benefits.

The proposed rule change, which is expected to be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, has long been sought by gun companies eager for easier access to international markets …

So the answer to that question is that the US is making it easier for the infection to spread to our southern neighbor. Our official policy is to spread our gun mania, our national disease, to other countries.

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