The El Paso massacre has gone international.
Following this tragic incident, where a gunman murdered 22 people in cold blood, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) offered his two cents. AMLO suggested that the U.S. review its gun control laws according to a Bloomberg News report.
During a news conference, AMLO said: “We are very respectful of what other governments decide, but we think that these unfortunate events in the U.S. should prompt reflection, analysis and the decision to control the indiscriminate sale of guns.”
The Mexican president asserts that Republicans and Democrats alike have not focused much on this problem.
A foreign president opening on American gun policy seems rather strange, but it makes sense in this context. After all, El Paso’s status as a border town with a population of predominantly Mexican American and Mexican nationals living in the area does make it an issue for Mexico.
In the shooting, six Mexican nations were wounded. It also didn’t help that the El Paso murderer’s manifesto contained anti-immigrant screeds. Regardless of where one stands on the issue of immigration, using violence as a means of changing policy is unacceptable.
Nevertheless, trying to score political points, like the way the Mexican president is doing, in this case, is not only petty but does not yield any form of productive political discussion.
Plus, Mexico is already filled with gun violence and has some of the most stringent gun control legislation in the region. If there is any country that needs to look at its gun and security policies, it’s Mexico.
We can complain about America’s federal gun control laws, which have lots of anti-freedom provisions, but Mexico’s gun control regime makes America look incredibly lax in comparison. For Mexicans who want to obtain firearms, they must provide references, have documentation of legal sources of income, submit a photo, and then be fingerprinted. Not exactly a recipe for large-scale legal ownership of firearms.
However, Mexican criminals are still finding ways to acquire firearms and wreak plenty of havoc, as evidenced by the power of drug cartels in the country. According to a report from The Sun, 94 homicides take place in Mexico every day.
Although there may be stronger institutional factors, such as the lack of rule of law at play when discussing crime in Mexico, disarming law-abiding Mexicans does not help matters.
The Mexican government has every right to defend the interests of its citizens abroad, but it should not use a tragedy to peddle misleading information on U.S. gun policy. Especially when considering that crime rates have continued dropping in America even with the expansion of gun rights.
Instead, a moment like this could be used to promote hemispheric cooperation on issues of public security, where civilian armament schemes could be put forward as one of many solutions to Latin America’s violence problems.
Productive discussion, not political bickering, can bring us closer to solutions that benefit countries within our hemisphere.