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Mexican Scapegoats: First the Addicts, Now the Guns

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 10:33 AM EDT

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) official testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about a new report on firearms trafficking to Mexico that states, in part, that “available evidence indicates a large proportion of the firearms fueling Mexican drug violence originated in the United States”. The report makes a series of recommendations including better coordination amongst federal agencies, making better use of a federal gun database, and urges “improved data gathering and reporting” of gun information in order “to ensure that relevant agencies are better focused on combating illicit arms trafficking to Mexico.”

What is somewhat disconcerting about this GAO report, and other similar studies, is the acceptance as fact that restricting gun ownership laws in the United States will help Mexico control violence in Mexico. It is a flawed assumption, one rooted in troglodyte Mexican gun control laws – some of the strictest in the world. For Mexico, controlling U.S. gun ownership laws is nothing more than its latest political scapegoat for its failure to protect its people from drug cartel violence.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Mexico blamed American addicts for the flow of drugs through Mexico using a clever supply-and-demand argument. Mexico’s drug problem is partly an American problem because American drug addicts buy drugs that come through Mexico. Today, they blame drug cartel violence on guns coming from the United States. According to the GAO report, Mexican officials have come to regard illicit firearms as the number one crime problem affecting the country’s security. Its a specious argument fueled by Mexico’s left used to distract from the core causes of Mexican government instability.

Rather than blame U.S. drug addicts, gun makers or owners, Mexican officials should focus on the root cause of its problem: lack of economic freedom and rule of law throughout Mexico. It needs to look within and ask tough questions about how the political and economic system have failed millions of Mexicans. People leave Mexico for the United States and other countries seeking better a life because the Mexican state has failed to create conditions for prosperity and rule of law to flourish. Statism and “Mexico City knows best” is the problem.

Americans have demonstrated time and time again that they stand ready to help our allies in the region, Mexico is no exception. The Mexican government should start taking personal responsibility for their problems and focus on reforming, privatizing, and growing the Mexican economy. Judicial reform to improve rule of law is also key. Some of these efforts have already started, but still at an embryonic stage. Through the years, American taxpayers have done their part. It is time for the Mexican government to step up.