Arizona: Mexico’s firearm superstore
With the death of Border Patrol Agent Nick Ivie recently, the danger those men and women face on a daily basis entered our collective consciousness once more. But before we had time to even honor the sacrifice Agent Ivie made for his country, some politicians weighed in with predictably political comments.
Governor Brewer told us that Ivie’s death once again reminded us of the “failure” of the federal government: “There should be anger, too. Righteous anger — at the kind of evil that causes sorrow this deep, and at the federal failure and political stalemate that has left our border unsecured and our Border Patrol in harm’s way. Four fallen agents in less than two years is the result.”
Iowa Senator Charles Grassley suggested that maybe the Fast and Furious scandal had something to do with Agent Ivie’s death.
Locally, Pinal County Sheriff Babeu took his usual shot at the alleged lack of federal border enforcement.
But as I have read about the life and death of Nick Ivie, as I read the comments of the politicians seeking to make some hay of his death, I wondered this:
How do so many guns get into the hands of these cartel murderers, anyhow?
After all, according to the New York Times, Mexico has exactly one gun store. In the country. Mexicans can only legally purchase a handgun, and that is restricted to no more firepower than .38 caliber. In addition, it takes months for their permit application to clear.
So how do so many guns end up in the hands of these cartels? The answer is easy: We are the primary weapons supplier of these cartels.
In fact, according to a Fortune Magazine article, the Mexican government estimates that 2,000 weapons a day come into its country from the U.S.
And Arizona is a primary candy store for these cartels. According to the ATF, “By 2009 the Sinaloa drug cartel had made Phoenix its gun supermarket and recruited young Americans as its designated shoppers or straw purchasers... (the ATF began investigating) a group of buyers, some not even old enough to buy beer, whose members were plunking down as much as $20,000 in cash to purchase up to 20 semiautomatics at a time, and then delivering the weapons to others.”
Some would want us to believe that the scandalous gun-walking plan of Fast and Furious is what we should be outraged about. We should be: It was an ill-conceived plan that seems to involve far too many people who should’ve known better. We know that at least one of those guns was used in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
But it would be naïve — or disingenuous — to believe that the only guns crossing the border are those walked as a result of the ATF.
No, there’s a more serious problem here, the problem created by the lax gun laws here in Arizona. In Arizona, as long as buyers are at least 21 (or 18 purchase rifles) and have no criminal record, they can purchase as many and as many types of weapons as they can pay for. No limit, no restrictions. Which means straw buyers can use our gun stores to supply the cartels with their weapons of choice.
So how does this happen? How do we have such lax laws that we have become the cartels’ gun supermarket?
Three letters — N-R-A.
The National Rifle Association is maybe the most successful and powerful lobbying group in the country. They are able to quell any attempt to pass even a moderate law such as limiting the size of gun clips or magazines.
And in Arizona, we have a wholly-owned-by-the-NRA Republican legislature and governor. Even here on the border of Mexico, the NRA-fueled lax gun laws have led to the thousands of guns crossing the border. Governor Brewer and the legislators know that if they even attempt to introduce the most modest of gun laws, the NRA will sic its membership on them, lobby like crazy, and threaten to run candidates against them. Add to that the pro-gun philosophy of Brewer and Company, and we have Arizona, the NRA Dream State.
So let’s take a look at the NRA mantra: Guns don’t kill people; people do. But here in Arizona, we have a twist on that: Guns don’t kill people; but lax gun laws allow some to kill even more people.
We should ask our politicians to answer these questions:
Will you support a law that would restrict the number of weapons a buyer can purchase at a single time? Will you even take that little step to dim the number of guns run across the border each day?
Or are you so frightened of the NRA that you’d rather have the cartels continue their access to unlimited guns, courtesy of the NRA and your fear?
Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.