3/31/2009

Is the United States Second Amendment to blame for the destabilization of Mexico?

Fox News Sunday featured Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) this past Sunday to discuss the recent outbreak of chaos between the Mexican government of President Filipe Calderon and the country's many large drug cartels. Rep. Lowry stated clearly when asked what she thought to be the cause of the turbulence that, "Mexican laws are too strict, so cartels come to the US to buy their guns", citing specifically "200 small gun dealers along the border".


Representative Lowey prescribed as the solution a renewal of the ban on assault weapons put in place under the Clinton Administration but allowed to expire by President Bush and the GOP Congress in power at the time the law's sunset provision came due.


This is not the first time a politician has chosen to fault the easy access of guns, particularly assault rifles and other automatic weapons, for the flaws of men who use those guns to perpetrate a violent crime. Domestic drug dealers and gangs have long been held up by advocates of stricter gun laws as evidence of how the right to bear arms has been grossly abused and misinterpreted in modern American society. However, is it reasonable to say that the problems of our neighbor could have somehow been avoided, or would be in anyway curtailed if the US were to ban the legal sale of heavy firearms? I think not.


Representative Lowry gives far too much credit to the Mexican authorities. The laws of Mexico should not be applauded, for they are deeply misguided on many fronts. Calderon has been a proactive president, but he is a lame duck nonetheless, as is any Mexican government. Calderon is hand-cuffed by the single six-year term limit (called a sexenio) placed on the presidency by the Mexican constitution, which combined with largely nationalized industry and national resources, stifle real economic growth and prevent policymakers from having any serious effect on the Mexican black market. This failure of institutions in Mexico leads Mexicans to flee to the US for a lot more than just guns -- they come for jobs, health care and a new life.


The cartels are going to get guns from Venezuela, Russia, or whomever else they can, and no ban on assault weapons will change that reality. I think that Rep. Lowey is taking advantage of the serious problems being experienced by the Mexican government to serve her own anti-gun political agenda, and to suggest that somehow the effect of the Second Amendment on the lives of Mexicans should be considered relevant to the domestic debate over the just nature of protecting gun-rights is misguided.



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