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Obama goes to War with Mexico instead of Corrupt Gun Dealers

from DemocracyNow.org

AMY GOODMAN: Much of the drug-related violence in Mexico has been fueled by the ability of drug cartels to purchase AK-47 assault rifles and other arms in the US. According to law enforcement officials, 90 percent of the guns picked up in Mexico from criminal activity are purchased in the United States. Last month, fifty-four Congress members wrote to President Obama backing Mexican calls to enforce a ban on the imports of assault weapons, which are often shipped to Mexico.


AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go right now to Washington, D.C. Our guest there is Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. These latest figures that we have just gone through, the number of weapons that are being used, something like 90 percent of them from the United States—your piece—your organization’s piece, “America’s Weak Gun Laws Are Fueling the Violence in Mexico”—how?

PAUL HELMKE: The folks in Mexico have figured out what criminals in the US figured out a long time ago: our weak and nearly nonexistent laws in the US are making it very easy for these guns to get to Mexico. Most Americans don’t realize that we basically have very few laws on the book, almost none, restricting access to guns. And so, it’s very easy to go to unlicensed dealers, who basically can sell any kind of gun without any kind of background check, particularly gun shows, particularly in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico. They go to licensed dealers who are corrupt, and because Congress in effect shields them by keeping the information about where the records are, what the inventory is, who’s in trouble, and making sure that ATF doesn’t have the funding, that’s where guns come from.

And the fact that we allow an unlimited number of guns, almost any kind of gun, very serious military—nearly military-style hardware, it’s obvious that’s why 90 to 95 percent of the guns are coming from the US. We are the world’s gun bazaar, and the gangs in Mexico have figured it out. If anything, Mexico ought to be putting up their army at our border to check the cars coming from the US in to see who’s bringing the guns in, because we make it so easy for dangerous people to get those guns.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, your article mentions that about one percent of all the licensed gun dealers represent 60 percent of the illegal gun sales.


JUAN GONZALEZ: Why doesn’t the government crack down on those particular licensed dealers that are involved in this trafficking?

PAUL HELMKE: Seems pretty obvious to me. Actually, that information is a little old. Congress no longer allows that kind of information to be made public. That’s from 2000, when it was said that 60 percent of the guns traced to crime come from one percent of the dealers.

But we only have enough ATF agents—it would take them twenty-one years to investigate every gun dealer to do—to stop by every gun dealer in the US. And in fact, we have laws on the books that say once you’ve investigated a gun dealer, a licensed gun dealer in the US, you cannot come back again for another twelve months unless you have a warrant. We make it harder to sell cigarettes to minors or liquor to minors than we do to sell guns in this country. And since you can go in again with a credit card and buy a thousand AK-47s, .50-caliber sniper rifles that can shoot down helicopters, it’s obvious why they come to the US to get their guns.

AMY GOODMAN: Paul Helmke—

PAUL HELMKE: We do nothing to stop—almost nothing to stop dangerous people from getting them.  

AMY GOODMAN: I remember when President Bush first took office and the statement of the NRA, “We’re now going to be operating out of the Oval Office.”


AMY GOODMAN: Do you still see their power at that level today? And what do you feel needs to be done?

PAUL HELMKE: Clearly, we have a lot stronger supporters with President Obama, Vice President Biden, Attorney General Holder, Rahm Emanuel, others in the administration. Elected officials in Congress, however, are still scared to death of the NRA for some reason. They think that the NRA is powerful, even though the NRA basically hasn’t won a single contested election in either the ’06 cycle or the ’08 cycle. We don’t know of any person who’s lost because of standing for commonsense gun control over the last two elections. But a lot of politicians are afraid of them, even though when we poll people at exit polls, 75 to 85 percent of gun owners, McCain voters, Republicans, as well as the general American public, support things like doing background checks in all sales, strengthening ATFs so we can stop this illegal trade in gun, restricting some of the weapons that are easily available to the general public

One Response

  1. Seems to me that NRA couldn’t stand the bright light of being really revealed to the middle of the road American people who want both 2nd amendment protection and 90% reduction in new weapon supply to violent criminals. I don’t even think the average NRA member knows what a lopsided percentage of crime guns come from a tiny minority of FFLs. C’mon, Obama, tell the American public again who supplies the crime guns.

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