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Gun trade killing Mexico

BY KURT CUNNINGHAM | APRIL 24, 2009 7:26 AM

I have often wondered what it would be like to live in the ’80s, when pastel colors roamed free to the sounds of hair-metal. It was a time in which Miami was a cultural icon for a prosperous America.

Well, those days are quickly becoming a reality.

Though Miami is no longer the poster boy for American success and America’s taste in colors have been tamed, the spillover of the “drug war” into the United States is in full swing.

And there’s one major difference this time: an economy on the fritz.

It was just past 8 in the morning a week ago today when I suddenly woke up to my quacking computer alarm telling me the obvious: Wake up, and the morning headlines from the New York Times have been downloaded to my computer.

As an avid reader of that publication, I have found myself deeply engrossed in the killing and attacks as a result of the Mexican drug cartels trying to have their way with the country. I guess I should not have been surprised there was another update of this ensuing violence.

After I started my coffeemaker — an habitual act for me in the morning — and I wiped the sleep out of eyes, I gazed upon a headline reading “In Mexico, Obama Seeks Curbs on Arms Sales to Thwart Drug Cartels.”

Finally, after a year that saw the largest number of drug-related killings due to hundreds of guns smuggled by U.S. citizens, the president decided to do something about the illegal trafficking of assault rifles.

Though not quite what I thought.

President Obama and his administration have agreed to work with the Mexican government to end the current “drug war” plaguing Mexico, which has begun to spill into the U.S. However, they will not reinstate an expired ban on assault rifles that would, hopefully, limit the number of illegal guns purchased by the cartels. Instead, he said, he will provide more aid to the border.

I’ll say it and agree with the National Rifle Association: The right to bear arms is one of the best-protected rights Americans have — next to my favorite, freedom of speech.

But the right to bear automatic assault rifles such as AK-47s and American-made Colt AR-15s seems a bit outlandish.

In the article in the Times, Obama’s administration acknowledged there was a high correlation between assault rifles being bought in the United States and drug-related violence in Mexico.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States’ “insatiable demand” for drugs and inability to control trafficking of assault weapons has fueled the “drug war.”

According to a previous Times report, 95 percent of guns collected from arrested and deceased cartel members have been bought and registered to U.S. citizens. All of the weapons are illegal for Mexicans to own.

But with the cartels infiltrating parts of the Mexican government, and the ban on assault rifles in America expiring in 2004, it is hard to say how this problem can be fixed — especially when anyone with a driver’s license and a clean record is able to purchase these weapons.

A possible solution for America might be to stop the trafficking by looking inward instead of outward.

Don’t put any more helicopters or boarder patrol agents on the line between Mexico and America; it’s a waste of resources.

As the economy continues to flounder itself in limbo, Americans will continue to find extreme means of income. And drug cartels are certainly willing to pay Americans high prices to smuggle guns across the boarder. A cliché states, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” And that seems like a fitting quote to describe what struggling individuals will do to make money.

Smugglers will find a way to bring guns across the boarder in order to achieve an income, or whatever they call it. Similar to drug mules, hiding weapons in cars is only becoming more creative and harder to detect.

The United States has to create restrictions for gun-shop owners.

The mere principle of selling an assault rifle to anyone with a clean record and driver’s license just sounds crazy and irresponsible.

Unfortunately, members of the National Rifle Association will undoubtedly be mad, but if there’s a reason to own an AK-47 or armor-piecing rounds, I have yet to discover it.

In my column called “Tough questions” I said owning a gun shop is a booming industry, and that is partially true. The United States needs to recognize the number of guns being sold for illegal use in Mexico or elsewhere.

However, it is truly hard to say when that realization will come. So until then, I am going to continue reading about the “war on drugs” in Mexico and hope that this county can come to its senses.


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