The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mandy Wimmer,

Communications Associate,
202-822-8200 x110,

President Can Use Current Law to Help Stop Assault Weapon Flow to Mexico, New Study Says

Study of Gun-Trafficking Problem Concludes President Obama and Attorney General Holder Could Use 1968 Law to Immediately Stop Import into U.S. of AK-47s and Other Assault Weapons Smuggled to Mexico


Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released Iron
River: Gun Violence and Illegal Firearms Trafficking on the U.S.-Mexico
, a comprehensive study of how the U.S. civilian firearms
market contributes to the ongoing drug-related violence in Mexico. The
report urges the Obama administration to take immediate action under the
federal 1968 Gun Control Act to cut off imports into the U.S. of military-style
semiautomatic assault weapons and "cop-killer" handguns capable of piercing
police body armor. Such weapons are imported into the U.S. and then illegally
trafficked into Mexico.

"With the stroke of
a pen President Obama could immediately stop tens of thousands of foreign-made
assault rifles from being dumped onto the U.S. market. These cheap military-style
guns, mostly AK-47 variants, are not only being smuggled from the U.S.
to Mexico, but are also killing police officers in the United States from
Oakland to Miami," stated VPC Senior Policy Analyst and study author Tom

Part One of Iron
provides an overview of the conflict in Mexico and its links
with the United States, including the "war on drugs," the U.S. civilian
firearms market, and transnational street gangs. Part Two describes in
detail the role of the U.S. civilian gun market in helping fuel the war
in Mexico, focusing on the deliberate introduction of semiautomatic military-style
firearms that today defines the U.S. civilian marketplace and the weak
regulation of guns in America that facilitates illegal trafficking. Part
Three offers concrete steps to control the illegal firearms traffic, including
non-legislative measures such as enforcing the import ban.

The report emphasizes
"upstream" measures to inhibit the movement of firearms from legal commerce
into the illegal trade, as opposed to relying solely on law enforcement
efforts, which are aimed "downstream" and focus on apprehending and prosecuting
illegal traffickers and criminals after the damage is done.

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."