In the absence of action by Congress, the Obama Administration announced two executive actions to address gun violence and trafficking last week. Mexico has long urged the United States to do its part to clamp down on the flow of firearms trafficked from the United States into Mexico that have led to bloodshed in communities across the country. Although modest and narrow in scope, these two executive actions are an indication of forward progress to address gun violence on both sides of the border and limiting organized crime’s easy access to lethal firepower.
Effective immediately, requests to allow the re-importation of military-grade firearms into the U.S. to private entities will no longer be permitted. These are the same military firearms that the United States had earlier provided to ally country’s militaries through aid packages or direct commercial sales. The White House acknowledges that, “since 2005, the U.S. Government has authorized requests to reimport more than 250,000 of these firearms.”
Current law requires individuals who want to buy a dangerous weapon, such as machine guns and short-barreled shotguns, to undergo a fingerprint-based background check. However, if this type of weapon is purchased from a trust or corporation, no background check is run on the purchase. This creates a loophole easily used by felons, domestic abusers, and others otherwise prohibited from owning these types of guns. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will propose a new rule that will eliminate this sort of loophole as part of President Obama’s new executive actions. The ATF reported that “last year alone, it received more than 39,000 requests for transfers of these restricted firearms to trusts or corporations,” making it more than evident that more and more people are taking advantage of these loopholes to gain access to guns.
One year ago, we joined with hundreds of victims of gun violence as part of the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity and urged policymakers to recognize the links between U.S. policies and gun violence in Mexico. Although it is unknown the exact impact these executive actions may have on the flow of weapons trafficked into Mexico, we know that action to address our flawed gun policies are an essential piece to addressing violence in Mexico.