09 June 2022
MEXICO — The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) gathered to discuss the issues of organized crime within its nations. In that, the theme of firearm trafficking seemed to be the root of most, if not all of the pertinent problems.
“There are high levels of gun inflow from the US into Mexico that fuels the criminal activity (in Mexico).” said the delegate of Mexico in a press conference.
While nations in CELAC were eloquent in their mitigation methodologies to reduce arms trafficking within CELAC nations, they failed to address one of the most important root causes - the source of the arms.
“Weapons used are not necessarily manufactured locally.” said the delegate of El Salvador. And the delegate was right. More than 179,000 firearms were captured in Mexico and five Central American countries tracing back to gun shops and gun factories in the United States between 2007 and 2019. Additionally, the Mexican Foreign Ministry estimates more than 2 million guns crossing the Rio Grande over the last decade.
Failure to address the root causes of the outflow of guns from the United States could prove detrimental to the attempt in alleviating organized crime by CELAC countries. CELAC countries must act fast because upon closer look, 2 factors might increase the outflow of guns from the United States.
The US has yet to re-ratify the Arms Trade Treaty
During his administration, Former President Donald Trump in amongst his many reactionary moves backed out of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
A long-time target of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the ATT was founded by the UN in 1983 to promote the responsible international transfer of conventional arms. Concealed behind pretenses of protecting the Second Amendment, this move meant a vast increase in profits for US gun companies.
However, in the 2 years since Biden stepped into office, he has not rescinded Trump’s irrational decision in withdrawing from the ATT, but instead maintaining frustrating silence on the subject.
Coupled with Biden’s timid approach to the Second Amendment and gun control in the US, there remains to be dangerously loose restrictions on the range and magnitude of guns flowing out of the US.
Increased gun ownership in the US
Under the Biden Administration, Republicans are still pushing for gun rights harder than ever.
In light of the several recent school shootings, Republican senators, most of whom having deep ties with large gun companies, seem to be aggressively pushing for higher gun ownership. This was backed by the idea of arming Americans with guns for self-protection against gun-wielding assailants, especially in schools and households. The idea, however foolish, has been widely accepted amongst many die-hard conservatives.
Red states are now aggressively loosening gun ownership laws to bolster the gun ownership rate in the US. Even as blue states pass stricter gun control laws, history has taught us that the increased gun ownership in the US in red states would far exceed any decrease in the already low gun ownership in blue states.
Officially, gun ownership rates in the US are already the highest globally, last counted at a staggering 393 million firearms in civilian hands. Based on current circumstances, this number will inevitably increase.
As such, with an increase in the arsenal, guns now become more accessible to traffickers in both price and quantity, sending increased numbers of guns across the porous borders of the US and CELAC nations.
Today, by the latest estimate, there are approximately 71 million small arms in Latin America, 14 percent of which belong to state security and paramilitary forces, while the remaining 86 percent likely to be in the hands of civilians.
With the current nature of council filibusters in the US, any hope for improvement of gun ownership and gun trading sparking from within the US remains bleak. As such, all eyes are on CELAC countries to handle the current illegal arms inflow into their own nations.
Members of CELAC should be perceptive to the source of the underlying issue - the arms inflow from the United States - and take rapid action in tailoring its approach to address the root cause of organized crime within CELAC countries.
In the meantime, with every firearm taken off the streets, a child becomes a little safer, and the future a little brighter.
Countless guns found in Latin America.