Today, President Obama unveiled an expansive plan to tackle gun violence. For so many of us focused on ending the bloodshed that has devastated communities on both sides of the border, this is encouraging news.
We wanted to THANK YOU for adding YOUR voice to the groundswell calling for an end to gun violence. Earlier this week, the petition that many of you signed urging President Obama to better enforce and tighten lax U.S. gun laws that traffickers exploit to get guns and smuggle them into Mexico was delivered to Vice President Biden’s task force on gun violence . As you may recall, this is the same petition initiated by groups from Mexico’s Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in partnership with LAWG and dozens of faith-based, human rights and anti-gun violence groups from both sides of the border.
We want to thank YOU and the 55,000 others who signed this petition to call for the U.S. to do its part to end gun violence in Mexico.
The petition was also delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City by leaders from Mexico’s Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, Javier Sicilia and Sergio Aguayo. In the letter addressed to President Obama that they delivered with the petition, these leaders expressed their condolences for “the frequent murders of innocents in your country” and for the massacre of children in Newtown, Connecticut, but also conveyed their indignation at “the indifference of the U.S. government toward the massacres that plunge Mexico into mourning.”
When over a hundred victims of violence and advocates from Mexico’s Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity traveled thousands of miles across the United States this summer to mobilize U.S. public support for change, we heard from families of victims fed up not only with the brutal cartel violence but also with cold-hearted, short-sighted government tactics that escalate the violence and treat victims as criminals deserving of their fate. And what message did they carry to Washington, DC? “Enforce the laws to stop gun trafficking,” said one young man from Ciudad Juarez, who had five family members murdered and whose entire extended family had to flee. Arms from the United States, he said, “are arming the cartels.”
He is right. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, seventy percent of the guns which are seized and submitted for tracing in Mexico originally came from the United States. The Violence Policy Center reports that many of these seized firearms are bought by “straw purchasers,” individuals with clean records who purchase firearms and then resell them to traffickers or at gun shows where background checks aren’t required to purchase a firearm.
We are encouraged by the groundswell of support we have seen to end gun violence on both sides of the border. We all know that this challenge is far from over. There is much more that President Obama and Congress must do and the political challenges will be fierce. Times like these remind us how important your activism is for just policies on both sides of the border.