Mexican cartel violence and American rights

Mexican cartel violence and American rights
© Getty Images

Never letting a crisis go to waste, the left responded to the horrific deaths of American citizens —including children — in Mexico by calling for gun control here.

Writing in the New York Times earlier this month, Ioan Grillo said the best way to disarm Mexican criminal cartels is by disarming Americans.

“Last year, 70 percent of the weapons that Mexican security forces captured and submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or A.T.F., were confirmed to be made or sold in the United States,” he wrote.

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This argument trivializes the deaths of the three young mothers and six of their children. It makes them unwitting recruits to a political battle they didn’t choose.

Worse, it gives a pass to the cartels and the corrupt government officials who overlook and even profit from the violence and criminal activity.

Mexico has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. It’s extremely difficult for a law-abiding Mexican citizen to buy or own a gun. There’s only one gun shop in the whole country, and it’s run by the military.

Yet the gun violence in the country is out of control, with 33,000 murders in 2018.

So Mexican officials blame America. The truth, of course, is that corruption enables the gun violence. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador acknowledged this himself in September, when he said “Nothing has damaged Mexico more than the dishonesty of its rulers.”

Obrador has pledged to fight corruption, but so has every president of Mexico for decades. Enrique Peña Nieto campaigned on the issue, and even established a National Anti-Corruption Commission. Yet in 2017, four of his party’s governors were jailed — for corruption. And a witness in El Chapo’s trial in New York City testified that Nieto himself had accepted a bribe of $100 million.

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Obrador’s approach to the cartels is a policy called “abrazos, no balazos” — hugs, not bullets. It’s exactly that intimidating. And Obrador is willing to accept defeat. Just last month, his new National Guard came under heavy fire when it tried to arrest El Chapo’s son, Ovidio Guzman Lopez, so the military released him and retreated.

So because Mexico won’t stand up to its own corruption and criminal cartels, the left contends, Americans’ rights must be taken away.

In Grillo’s NYT piece, he specifically cites “Kalashnikovs and AR-15s” as weapons of choice for the cartels. It’s true that some Kalashnikovs are made in the U.S. (sporting models, not the fully automatic ones) but the vast majority of the world’s most popular rifle, the AK-47, are made elsewhere. China is a huge producer of AK knockoffs. So is Venezuela.

If every gun going into Mexico from the U.S. was confiscated at the border, does Grillo really believe that the cartels, with their enormous resources, would go without? Or would they simply go to their other sources — where they currently get the other 30 percent of their weapons?

But weapons smuggling (which is already illegal) isn’t the focus of Grillo’s piece, or of the left’s gun-grabbing agenda. What is? Our rights.

But Mexico itself is a testament to the futility of gun laws. There, the criminals are well armed, the amateurish National Guard is outgunned, the citizens are defenseless, and the cartels and corrupt officials are unimpeded.

Obrador has turned down President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE’s offer of help. “The worst thing you can have is war,” he said.

But war is exactly what he has now — and he’s losing it. Taking away the rights of Americans won’t change that.

Kevin Roberts, Ph.D., is executive director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.