WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. law enforcement official said Friday the Bush administration never assessed whether a decade-long assault weapon ban had reduced the flow of high-powered guns into the hands of Mexican drug gangs.
"I don't think we've ever really tracked it," said William McMahon, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Since the expiration of the ban in 2004, Mexican drug syndicates have built up their stockpiles, Mexican officials say. They have long maintained that the weapons — many bought in Texas and smuggled into Mexico — have escalated the country's drug-fueled violence that has killed more than 5,400 people this year.
U.S. officials, by contrast, have insisted that the overriding challenge is to stem the relentless flood of illegal narcotics to American users.
The controversy flared Friday when the U.S. secretary of state and the Mexican foreign minister appeared at a joint news conference.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the ban's expiration had no bearing on Mexico's violence.
"I follow arms trafficking across the world, and I've never known illegal arms traffickers who cared very much about the law," Rice said. "And so I simply don't accept the notion that the lifting of the ban somehow has led arms traffickers to increase their activity." [emphasis added]
But Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa said authorities in her country would favor restoration of the ban.
Article here. Typical. The Mexicans blaming America for Mexico's problems. Gee, maybe we could get the Mexicans to pass their own ban on "assault weapons". Oh, wait, the Mexicans already did, and they have their own draconian gun control laws. But in the spirit of international harmony and goodwill, perhaps we can make a deal: The Mexicans stop illegal drugs from entering the U.S., and we'll stop our guns from going South of the border. You first, Mexico.