Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"The Newtown-Mexico Connection" (Huffington Post, December 19, 2012)

It is shocking how the debate over gun control in the wake of the Newtown massacre has avoided mentioning gun violence south of the border. The 20 children gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School can now be added to the excruciating list of at least 1,200 North American children who have been violently killed since the beginning of the U.S.-backed militarized "drug war" in 2006. Some estimates even put the number at over 4,000, along with over 3,700 orphans.

The grief of the families of Fairfield Country unites them with the bitter pain felt by the tens of thousands of family members of those who have died in Mexico. The overarching objective of the policy debate should not be only to avoid occasional disasters in high income US suburbs like Newtown, but to bring peace to North America.

Guns cause a great deal of damage in the United States, but these very same weapons have literally ripped apart the country's southern neighbor. Since 2006, over 70,000 people have been violently killed, 25,000 have simply "disappeared" and at least 230,000 have been displaced from their homes in Mexico. One in three Mexican households were victims of crime or violence in 2011. Homicide is the second highest cause of death today in Mexico. Recent data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reveal that the vast majority of the guns used in Mexico are purchased in the United States.

Many brush off these numbers as supposedly the result of fighting between rival drug gangs. But the reality is that an enormous portion of the dead are perfectly innocent bystanders, migrants, activists, journalists and children. One of the most important characteristics of the semi-automatic assault weapons purchased at US gun fairs and shops is that they are well prepared to take out anyone in sight. No wonder :atinos, 65 percent of whom are of Mexican origin, are so strongly in favor of increased gun control in the United States.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) should be applauded for its willingness to "offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again". But the discussion should be guided just as much by the plight of Mexican children as by the fears of suburban mothers. It is not enough, for instance, to improve background checks for mental health conditions, reduce video-game violence, include safety controls on firing mechanisms or reduce the size of ammunition magazines....

CONTINUE READING AT THE HUFFINGTON POST