On March 12, 2009, Mr. Diaz made a statement in the U.S. House of Representatives before the Subcommittee on National Security & Foreign Affairs under the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It was part of a Hearing on “Money, Guns, and Drugs: Are U.S. Inputs Fueling Violence on the U.S./Mexico Border?”
In the very beginning of the statement, in keeping with the title, he has this to say:
It is beyond question that firearms from the U.S. civilian gun market are fueling violence not only on both sides of the U.S./Mexico Border, but in Mexico itself.
This made me stop and think about several recent discussions we've had. News reports had come out recently stating that this just isn't so for the simple reason that the Mexican drug wars require far more weaponry than is possible to smuggle across the border a few pieces at a time. Now, here comes an expert on the matter, a guy who's been on both sides of the argument and presumably knows what he's talking about, addressing the House of Representatives with as strong a statement as this.
He goes on to explain, exactly what we've heard before in the Iknadosian case, that there are thousands of FFL dealers now along the border. Diaz describes the process as an inexorable army of ants moving guns over the border. To me it's convincing.
One of the surprising bits of information I learned in this statement was the fact that over the last three decades the numbers of guns have actually diminished in certain quarters. There are fewer hunters, for example. The demographics show that hunting is an older man's activity. Other survey data shows that "during the period 1972 to 2006, the percentage of American households that reported having any guns in the home dropped nearly 20 percentage points: from a high of 54 percent in 1977 to 34.5 percent in 2006."
I found that amazing, but not as amazing as the gun industry's response.
For the gun industry, innovation has translated into introducing increasingly deadly firearms into the civilian market. The gun industry uses firepower, or lethality, in the same way that the tobacco industry uses nicotine. Firearm lethality is a means to “hook” gun buyers into coming back into the market again and again as more deadly innovations are rolled out. As a consequence, the profile of the civilian gun industry today is defined by military style weaponry.
This increased lethality, naturally serves the gangsters, both foreign and domestic, who make up a certain percentage of the buyers. Guys like Iknadosian, and apparently there are thousands like him, have become expert in concealing the fact that their product is not all destined for sportsmen and collectors.
A large number of the firearms smuggled from the United States into Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America come from the Southwest, the states of which are notoriously lax in gun control laws and law enforcement regulation. It has been reported that there are more than 6,700 U.S. gun dealers within a short drive of the southern border — more than three dealers for each of the approximately 2,000
miles of the border.
In his statement Diaz concludes with clear suggestions about what can be done. Examples of these measures include stopping the production and import of military-style firearms such as semiautomatic assault weapons and 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifles, and making all transfers of firearms subject to a background check.
What's your opinion? Do you feel Diaz' credibility is increased by the fact that he was formerly a member of the NRA? Are you swayed by the argument that thousands of gun dealers could actually supply the Mexican drug war with guns, transporting the weapons like a column of ants across the border? Do you think his suggestions fall into the category of "common sense gun laws?"
Please leave a comment with your opinion.