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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Politics > House’s failure to pass gun bill endangers Americans and Mexicans alike

House’s failure to pass gun bill endangers Americans and Mexicans alike

LatinaLista — If there is one universal truth about guns, it’s that they are seen as tools of violence. It doesn’t matter if the gun is used for sport or crime; the instrument itself, separated from the intent of the shooter, is still considered a weapon of destruction.

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If that weren’t the case then we wouldn’t still be reading stories of young elementary school students being suspended from classes just because they created a gun with their fingers.

It’s just understood that guns are violent — and deadly in the wrong hands, as we saw with what happened in the Tucson shooting and what we continually hear from Mexico as drug cartels use guns to murder their victims on a daily basis.

It’s ironic that in a country like Mexico, where it’s illegal to buy firearms, that recently a United States ICE agent met his death at the end of a gun barrel that was most probably bought in the United States.

And given the vote last week in the House of Representatives, it would seem that a lot more US agents working in Mexico to help counter the drug cartels, not to mention innocent Mexican and American citizens living in Mexico, are in more danger than ever before at being killed by a gun bought in the United States.

The House voted overwhelmingly Friday to block the Obama administration from implementing a controversial proposal meant to give federal authorities a new tool to catch gunrunners to Mexico.

The proposed rule was strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association, which praised the House for taking the action.

The bill would simply have required the 8,500 gun dealers near the U.S.-Mexico border to alert authorities when they sell within five consecutive business days two or more semiautomatic rifles “greater than .22 caliber with detachable magazines” — the very guns that are a favorite of Mexican drug cartels.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) opposed the measure because it “burdened” law-abiding gun owners and gun retailers and House political leaders (members from both sides of the aisle voted against it) bought that insane argument.

In fact, from the Obama administration to Congress, all have lacked the courageous leadership necessary in doing what is right in promoting and passing such a bill that could not only put a dent in Mexico’s violence but challenge the NRA on their moral responsibility to the rest of the nation who aren’t gun owners.

The level of influence the NRA wields in Washington is so blatantly obvious that any notion that leadership challenging them will come from within the Beltway is a hope whose light has long faded.

That’s why a new national campaign spearheaded by 550 mayors shows much more promise and leadership than what we’ve seen in DC regarding gun issues.

The campaign is called “Fix Gun Checks” and it’s a project of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign. The goal of Fix Gun Checks is to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people by getting the names of all the people who shouldn’t be buying guns and listing them in a background check system, and requiring a background check for every gun sale in America.

The campaign was co-founded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York and Mayor Tom Menino of Boston and is a bipartisan initiative to make sure criminals, the mentally ill, drug abusers and other dangerous people don’t get access to guns.

Currently, the campaign is on a two-month tour of the country touting its message on the side of a truck billboard. There is an online petition for people to sign urging Congress to adopt this process of inconveniencing gun buyers and retailers to keep the country safe.

Coincidentally, in Sept. 2010, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns published a brief titled “The Movement of Illegal Guns Across the U.S.-Mexico Border.”

Some of the report’s findings are:

Since 2006, 90% of the Mexican crime guns submitted for tracing originated from gun dealers in the United States.

The raw number of these guns increased from 1,200 guns in 2006 to 5,194 guns in 2009, and the 2009 total is expected to increase as Mexico continues to submit recently recovered crime guns for tracing.

Three out of four crime guns recovered in Mexican crimes and submitted for tracing were originally sold in a Southwest border state. In 2009, 40.0% of the Mexican crime guns that were traced to the U.S. were originally sold in Texas,11 36.1% were originally sold in other Southwest border states (Arizona, New Mexico, California), and 23.9% were originally sold in non-border states.

At a time in our history when everyone is being warned that changes, hard changes are coming where we will be asked to make sacrifices and be inconvenienced to do our part for the health of the economy, there is no rationale or justification to not pass a bill that doesn’t just keep our country safer but our neighbor as well.

This is a vote no politician, who has a moral conscience, should be proud of.

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