Fewer Firearms, More Crime; Gun Control Set off Explosion of Drug-Cartel Violence

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Farago, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Last month, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told an interviewer that Mexican drug lords are what we would consider an insurgency. Diplomatically enough, the State Department immediately rescinded her remark. But Mrs. Clinton is right. To wit: So far this year, the cartels' henchmen have assassinated 10 Mexican mayors.

Clearly, the drug lords are subverting the rule of law, obliterating northern Mexico's political infrastructure. And why not? The cartels have bought off the Mexican military, surviving politicians, judges and the police. As we learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, it takes a village to stop an insurgency. Too bad the Mexican people can't own guns.

According to Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution, our neighbors to the south have the same right to bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

The inhabitants of the United Mexican States have the right to possess arms in their homes for their security and legitimate defense with the exception of those prohibited by federal law and of those reserved for the exclusive use of the Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard. Federal law shall determine the cases, conditions and place in which the inhabitants may be authorized to bear arms.

There's your trouble. When it comes to personal protection, the Mexican government gets the last word. Or, in this case, the first. And that word is no.

Long before the Mexican drug cartels cut a distribution deal with their South American confederates, back when Colombian drug lords were busy corrupting their society's democratic system, Mexico's federal government was cracking down on private gun ownership. Its war against civilian firearms began in 1968, after civil unrest spooked the powers that be. The Mexican government closed all privately held firearm stores. From that point on, all firearm sales had to go through the Mexican Defense Ministry. It determined what guns were sold to whom at what price.

As you'd expect, this artificial concentration of supply led to a worsening of endemic corruption. Bottom line: Only the wealthiest Mexicans could legally secure a firearm for personal protection. Sometimes not even they could. The Defense Ministry's sales practices also reflected its self-serving political agenda. It restricted legal access to guns to the point where some Mexican law enforcement agencies were forced to smuggle in weapons from the United States. So were thousands of civilians.

Ironically, given America's history of individual gun rights, the U. …