For Release: Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Study of Gun-Trafficking Problem Concludes President Obama and Attorney General Holder Could Use 1968 Law to Immediately Stop Import into U.S. of AK-47s and Other Assault Weapons Smuggled to Mexico
Washington, D.C.—The Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released Iron River: Gun Violence and Illegal Firearms Trafficking on the U.S.-Mexico Border, a comprehensive study of how the U.S. civilian firearms market contributes to the ongoing drug-related violence in Mexico. The report urges the Obama administration to take immediate action under the federal 1968 Gun Control Act to cut off imports into the U.S. of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons and “cop-killer” handguns capable of piercing police body armor. Such weapons are imported into the U.S. and then illegally trafficked into Mexico.
“With the stroke of a pen President Obama could immediately stop tens of thousands of foreign-made assault rifles from being dumped onto the U.S. market. These cheap military-style guns, mostly AK-47 variants, are not only being smuggled from the U.S. to Mexico, but are also killing police officers in the United States from Oakland to Miami,” stated VPC Senior Policy Analyst and study author Tom Diaz.
Part One of Iron River provides an overview of the conflict in Mexico and its links with the United States, including the “war on drugs,” the U.S. civilian firearms market, and transnational street gangs. Part Two describes in detail the role of the U.S. civilian gun market in helping fuel the war in Mexico, focusing on the deliberate introduction of semiautomatic military-style firearms that today defines the U.S. civilian marketplace and the weak regulation of guns in America that facilitates illegal trafficking. Part Three offers concrete steps to control the illegal firearms traffic, including non-legislative measures such as enforcing the import ban.
The report emphasizes “upstream” measures to inhibit the movement of firearms from legal commerce into the illegal trade, as opposed to relying solely on law enforcement efforts, which are aimed “downstream” and focus on apprehending and prosecuting illegal traffickers and criminals after the damage is done.