Most of the talkers, pundits and appalled citizens don’t know the half of it. The danger to this country goes beyond simple murder.
The threat, unmistakable but somewhat masked, has been around at least since Barack Obama was elected president. People have shown up wearing guns near places where Obama spoke, and we’ve all seen the gun-nut signs carried by dozens of strutting would-be cowboys at all of the tea-party rallies around the country.
Then we had the House of Representatives vote on the Democrats’ health bill and the threats became more overt. People screamed racial and sex-related slurs at members of Congress – egged on by Fox Party members of Congress, we must note. Democratic members of Congress have received countless overt threats to their lives and the lives of their families since then. (Oh, yeah, and a few Republicans stepped up to say “me, too” but offered little evidence to back up their mostly dubious claims. But even if the threats were aimed equally at Democrats (that is, Corporatists) and Foxes, that doesn’t make them in the least acceptable.)
Many of us expect the threats of violence, aided by such “respectable” politicians as Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann and a bunch of other right wing loudmouths, to turn to action at some point. There are a lot of crazies roaming free in this country and a very high percentage of them are armed. It’s highly probable that someone is going to be killed or at least wounded.
Yet, folks, the violence we’re likely to experience in the foreseeable future is relatively light compared with the horrors experienced almost daily by the people of Mexico.
The facts have been greatly muted by the corporate media in this country, but the plain truth is that American gun nuts bear a major share of the responsibility for the horrific bloodshed below the border.
In 2009, Mexico reported 7,724 deaths related to wars between drug gangs and between drug gangs, police and other Mexican government officials, according to a report in Foreign Policy in Focus. Several agencies reported that there were about 2,000 gang-related killings last year in the near-border town of Ciudad Juarez alone, and 227 more were killed in that city in January of this year. The vast majority of the killings have been by gunshot.
Last month (March, 2010), shooters involved in the illegal drug trade killed a pregnant American consulate worker and her husband in Juarez, and shot and killed the husband of another U.S. consulate employee and wounded two of the couple’s children. A number of American diplomats and other employees, most of them working near the U.S. border, have been threatened.
Several times last year, entire neighborhoods, and even entire towns, have been the sites of pitched gun battles between drug gang and between such gangs and Mexican police. Innocent men, women and children often are among those killed and wounded in the violence.
We, the American people, bear a substantial responsibility for the terrible bloodshed, and not only because Americans buy almost all of the drugs processed and sold by the Mexican gangs.
Mexico’s gun laws are stronger than ours. Mexican citizens can legally own firearms, but there are tighter controls on the kinds of weapons, the number and the personal histories of gun owners. There is much closer watch on gun dealers in Mexico than there is here.
Gangsters don’t give a damn for such laws, of course. But even for them, buying guns – especially military-style weapons that have no purpose other than killing human beings – is difficult. Or, rather, it would be were it not for the fact that they can get anything they want in the way of weaponry just over the border in the United States.
The International Action Network on Small Arms said in a report on weapons trafficking in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean that there were about 6,600 gun dealers very close to the Mexican border on the U.S. side. Last year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put the number at 6,800. The Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University said in an April 2009 report that the number was about 6,700.
Two weeks ago as I write this, I saw on television an interview with Mexican President Filipe Calderon Hinojosa. Colderon maintained that the actual number of weapons dealers in the U.S. hard by the border with Mexico, now is closer to 10,000.
That ties closely with the fact that government agencies on both sides of the border say that almost 90 percent of the weapons used by Mexico’s out-of-control drug gangs come from this country. A report by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) a little more than a year ago said that the agency has cooperated with Mexican authorities in tracing as many as possible of the firearms recovered from, confiscated from or abandoned at crime scenes by members of drug gangs. They were able to trace 87 percent of such weapons to this country, the ATF said.
The U.S. State Department said that Mexican authorities seized almost 40,000 illegal firearms from criminals in 2008. About 90 percent of those guns originated with U.S. dealers, the department reported.
Some of the people reading this are no doubt wondering why they haven’t heard any of this from their hometown newspapers and television stations, or even from networks and cable news outlets.
There have been a few scattered stories on the gun trafficking across the border, but just a few, and not prominently placed. Most newspapers and radio and television outlets reported the murders of the U.S. consulate employees, but none that I saw tied the murders to cross-border gun peddling. Broadcast reports were the usual few seconds and focused on the fact that those killed worked for our consulate. The New York Times has mentioned the traffic a few times, notably in connection with statements from Secretary Clinton, but most other newspapers have been silent on the subject.
I’ll give you one guess on the reason for the silence in this country.
Yes, of course: Fear of American gun nuts, the National Rifle Association, the gun lobby and politicians tied to that crowd.
Obviously, the peddling of weapons to Mexican drug gangs is highly profitable. Remember, 40,000 recovered weapons in 2008 alone, and nobody knows how many still in the hands of gangsters, but certainly many times that 40,000 figure. And there are thousands of sales to drug peddlers every day along the border. Money, money, money.
America’s gun makers are going to protect that highly profitable business every way they can, and that inevitably means stirring up the knuckle draggers who front for them in every battle in the stupidly mistaken belief that they are “protecting our Second Amendment rights.”
Ain’t no one going to git my guns unless they pry ’em outta my cold dead fingers, etc., etc., etc.
There doesn’t seem to be any hope that the damn fools will ever figure out that they’re being used to protect the manufacturers’ and sellers’ profits and that no one ever seriously has suggested that sporting guns be forbidden in this country.
And, boy are the industry-manipulated boobs loud and nasty on this trumped up campaign.
Gun-nut blogs and web sites are wild on the subject. You want to stand back if you click on one of them or you may get sprayed with the spit that seems almost literally to be sprayed from mouths of gun crazies when someone raises the topic of peddling to Mexican murderers – and the guys behind this traffic make sure someone raises it frequently.
The major point, when you get past the usual obscene and often barely literate ravings, is that it just ain’t so. They know that because someone on another Web site said so, and they believe every lie they’re told, no matter how absurd. The industry plays the suckers like Itzhak Perlman plays a fiddle.
Never mind the reports that have been produced by several government agencies on both sides of the border. The guns aren’t coming from this country because…well, because…because one former ATF officer who devotes most of his waking hours to a gun blog and the “cause” of guns says they’re not, and because Fox News says they’re not, and what more proof do you need.
There are all sort of theories on the gun-nut Web sites and in their magazines about where the guns going to Mexico originate.
The theories often are in conflict, but it doesn’t matter; if you’re a true believer, you’ll pick the one you like, or believe two conflicting theses at the same time. In a trawl through the gun sites a few months ago and again a few days ago, I found at least half a dozen claims about where the Mexican drug gangs’ guns “really” are coming from.
Most of the theorists place the source in rotten, commie Europe, of course, although at least a couple said the main source is in Asia. Turkey was mentioned at least once, I recall, and France at least a couple of times since most red-blooded John Wayne wannabes hate France for reasons they probably can’t recall any more.
Oh, yeah. A little casual checking produced the unsurprising fact that a lot of the writers of articles “disproving” the reports of gun peddling from this country have close ties to the gun industry and/or the NRA.
There are two terrible situations here.
One, obviously, is that gangsters have taken control of substantial pieces of our neighboring country and are murdering and maiming innocent citizens at the same time they are shipping countless tons of narcotics into this country.
The other is that much of our government and, even more, the corporate-owned “news” media in this country are so afraid of the gun nuts that they won’t make a serious effort to tell the American public what is going on, so that the relatively sane majority can force our politicians to stop the mayhem. And it would take force, given the cowardice of our politicians when the gun nuts start howling.
Americans who live in a world based on reality owe it to our country to spend at least a little time exploring the fantasy world of the gun culture. You have to know how far beyond reality those people are to fully understand the danger they pose to our society and our form of government.
They rage at any group and any individual who proposes even the mildest of controls on the worst of weaponry. Their words and their imagery are typical of barroom bullies, and like barroom bullies they sometimes yell themselves into positions where they almost have to strike out or look cowardly to their drinkin’ buddies.
Since well before his election as president, Barack Obama is the next thing to the Devil himself in the world of gun worshippers. Some even – literally – declare he is the Antichrist. (Of course, many ordinarily liberal politicians and civic leaders have been identified recently as the Antichrist by some wing nut or another, so the distinction isn’t quite as great as it once was.)
During the 2008 presidential campaign, someone in Gun Fantasy World declared that Obama was the greatest danger to gun ownership in the history of this nation, and that has been taken as gospel in that weird world ever since. The originator undoubtedly was someone with the gun manufacturing/selling industry, since the entire industry is rabidly right wing, but we’ll never know the source.
It matters not a bit that Obama has never made the slightest move or uttered the tiniest suggestion that Americans should lose their sporting guns, and any hints that he might favor some control on the distribution and ownership of weapons meant only for killing people have been extremely weak. In Gun Fantasy World, nevertheless, the belief that he spends most of his time plotting to confiscate guns is unquestioned.
Go look. You need to. Here’s a good starting point, which leads to other sites, most of them relatively on the mild side as gun sites go; those will lead you to others.