Yesterday, Barack Obama broke down in tears when recalling the shooting victims that the United States has seen recently. There have been violent scenes in public spaces, schools and shopping malls, where someone, for whatever reason, has decided to shoot innocent people, snatching their life away just like that. The schizophrenia of some has consequences on the lives of others and seeps out in the form of bullets of varying calibers, thanks to the second constitutional amendment that allows every citizen to own a weapon. It is a battle that has been fought for many years. The most conservative thinkers halt any attempt to make the law stricter; they want weapons to continue to be a market to which anyone may have access. Their shield is the Constitution itself.
Now that the run-up to the election campaign has begun, it is a topic that is being brought up time and again, although on this occasion it comes with promises such as those from Donald Trump, who says that he would prevent Muslims from entering the United States, taking advantage of the events of the Paris attacks. At the same time, this is increasing the paranoia that is becoming commonplace in [the U.S.]. Just a few weeks after the tragic events that took place in the French capital on Black Friday, an increase in the purchase of guns was recorded. According to the FBI, there were 185,345 buyers — 10,000 more than the figure recorded last year. That is in spite of the fact that during that time, in San Bernardino, California, people were mourning the lives of 14 people who died in a shooting perpetrated by two people that were allegedly Islamic State group supporters.
Gun control is a sensitive subject, because on top of the risks demand appears to be going in the opposite direction. People continue to buy guns, given how easy it is to do so. It is as simple as going to a supermarket and purchasing them as part of a monthly shopping list. However, it is such a complicated issue. Obama’s tears over the matter speak volumes about how tied his hands are at this moment in time. Despite being president, he cannot change the amendment to tighten gun sale regulations.
If you thought it was bad in the United States, here in Mexico the situation is even worse, because that amendment is also detrimental to us. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 2006 and 2011 more than 94,000 guns were seized from various Mexican cartels. This is a tremendous number of guns — as many as the murders that they caused on our own soil. As Felipe Calderón once pointed out when he was president, “You – the United States – supply the guns, we supply the deaths…” The same department said that around 70 percent of those recovered guns entered Mexico via the northern border, from Tijuana to Matamoros. The rest reached Guatemala and are used by drug traffickers in standoffs with the authorities. This is the problem: the majority of the guns used by Mexican cartels come from the United States.
There are many ways in which a drug trafficker acquires said guns. One such way is “buying straw” — when traffickers coerce or pay U.S. citizens with no criminal record, the sole condition [to buying a weapon], to purchase guns and then send them to representatives of the cartels. During that same period, 2006 to 2011, Operation Fast and Furious was carried out without the approval or knowledge of the Mexican government, and permitted the sale of guns to criminal groups with the aim of tracking them down. The only outcome was a controversy when the operation was made public.
In 2015, a total of 353 shootings were counted on U.S. soil; 1,314 people were injured and 462 lost their lives. Over those 12 months, according to data published by the Mexican newspaper Reforma, 4,771 murders related to drug trafficking took place; 397 per month, or 13 per day. Tighter regulations are therefore vital not just for [the U.S.], but for us too. Unfortunately, we cannot do anything to abolish the lethal Second Amendment. Not even Obama can do that, hence his tears… and ours.
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