Commentary Magazine


Logic Goes South

The situation just south of our border is bad, and getting worse. It’s gotten to the point where Mexico’s foreign minister feels it necessary to issue statements assuring the world that he does not govern a failed state.

The cause? Drug gangs, who have for years been terrorizing and dominating large swaths of Mexico. In one city,  Juarez, the mayor has moved his family to the United States to escape death threats.The drug wars have driven Mexico’s murder rate to record highs, with Juarez alone accounting for more than one in four Mexican killings.

It isn’t just killings, though.  Kidnapping is also at record highs. Moreover,  crime associated with the Mexican drug trade has jumped the border — Phoenix, Arizona is now not only the kidnapping capital of the U.S., but it’s #2 in the world — only behind Mexico City itself.

Obviously, this is a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States. It’s something that simply can not be ignored.

And President Obama isn’t ignoring it. He tapped Arizona’s sitting governor to be new Secretary of Homeland Security. If anyone would know about the dangers posed by Mexico’s problems, it would be Janet Napolitano, right?

Yet, the Obama administration’s go-to response to Mexico-related crime is to suggest more gun control laws.

The logic, one assumes, goes like this: Mexican gangs like using fully-automatic weapons. For pretty much all intents and purposes, fully-automatic weapons are banned from private ownership in the US. However, since we must be seen as doing something, we’ll ban semi-automatic weapons that kinda sorta look like the illegal ones. Because the last thing we need in the midst of a major crime wave from another country is Americans exercising their right to keep and bear arms and lawfully defend themselves.

Back during the first assault weapons ban, critics mocked it as “the scary-looking guns” ban. The military has a perfectly workable definition of an “assault weapon” — it must be capable of either automatic fire, or “burst” fire — more than one round from a single pull of the trigger. But that’s too simple for Congress; the old law targeted weapons that carry such features as a mounting point for a bayonet or a grenade launcher. After all, what self-respecting psycho killer would want to do without a bayonet or grenade launcher?

As many have noted, there is no proof that Mexican gangs are using weapons taken from American civilians in their drug wars. Indeed, there is considerable circumstantial evidence that they are not — as noted, fully-automatic weapons are, by and large, unavailable to civilians. No, it is far more likely that they are getting them from Mexican law enforcement and military sources — corruption in the ranks of those organizations is legendary. But that doesn’t seem to matter to editorial board of the Boston Globe.

The situation in Mexico is a major crisis. And we have in the White House Rahm Emanuel, who observed that one “should never let a crisis go to waste.”