The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mandy Wimmer, Communications Associate,
202-822-8200 x110,             

Gun Industry Feeds Violence on U.S./Mexico Border, Violence Policy Center Tells Congress

Weak Regulation, Proliferation of Military-Style Guns “Fit Like Gloves on The Bloody Hands of Drug Lords”


Weak regulation of the U.S. civilian gun
market and the gun industry's focus on increasingly lethal military-style
firearms have combined to fuel the drug war in Mexico and violence in the
United States, Violence Policy Center (VPC) Senior Policy Analyst Tom Diaz told
a Congressional subcommittee today. For a copy of Diaz's testimony,
please see

"If one wanted to design a system to pour
military-style guns into criminal hands, it would be hard to find a better one
than the U.S.
civilian gun market," Diaz testified before the Subcommittee on National
Security & Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee
on Oversight and Government Reform. "The only 'better'
way would be openly selling guns to criminals from the loading docks of
manufacturers and importers."

Diaz pointed out that officials of the federal Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have stated that Mexican drug
lords increasingly seek military-style weapons easily available on the U.S.
civilian market. These include: the Barrett 50 caliber anti-armor
sniper rifle capable of piercing armor plate from a mile and a half;
semiautomatic assault rifles, including variants of the Colt AR-15 and the
Kalashnikov AK-47; and, the "vest-busting" anti-armor handgun the
FN Herstal Five-seveN 5.7mm pistol, known as the "cop killer" in

The VPC has issued numerous studies on the increasing
military-bred lethality of civilian firearms in the United
States and on the lax regulation of the U.S. gun market. These are
available at the website

"The U.S.
gun market doesn't just make gun trafficking in military-style weapons to
drug cartels and their criminal associates in the United States easy," said
Diaz, "it practically compels that traffic. Lax regulation of the U.S.
gun market and the gun industry's ruthless design choices fit like gloves
on the bloody hands of the drug lords and their criminal gang

Diaz told the subcommittee that President Barack Obama and
Attorney General Eric Holder could immediately direct ATF to strictly exercise
its statutory authority to stop the importation of all semiautomatic assault
rifles as "non-sporting" weapons under existing provisions of the
1968 Gun Control Act.

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) works to stop gun death and injury through research, education, advocacy, and collaboration. Founded in 1988 by Executive Director Josh Sugarmann, a native of Newtown, Connecticut, the VPC informs the public about the impact of gun violence on their daily lives, exposes the profit-driven marketing and lobbying activities of the firearms industry and gun lobby, offers unique technical expertise to policymakers, organizations, and advocates on the federal, state, and local levels, and works for policy changes that save lives. The VPC has a long and proven record of policy successes on the federal, state, and local levels, leading the National Rifle Association to acknowledge us as "the most effective ... anti-gun rabble-rouser in Washington."