Cold Steel to Warm Your Heart

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jan 16, 2007 3:28 PM

A pro-gun round-up at Michelle's. Why? Because someone sent me a rude e-mail this morning about some old pro-gun columns I'd written, which reminded me that I should hit on the subject again. Also, a pro-gun column on the NYT op-ed page? It's true.

Click through. You gotta see it to believe it.

Update: From one of Michelle's readers, Paul, I get a tip on this story, from the Arizona Republic. Now, because border security is her issue, I'm sure Michelle could rip into this better than I, but let me take a stab at this Page1, above-the-folder from the Republic: (all emphases mine)

The Mexican village of Zazalpa got a chilling lesson in American-made firepower recently. Homes, cars, everything was destroyed. Even the cows were shot.

About 60 Mexican drug smugglers rolled into Zazalpa, 300 miles southeast of Douglas, looking for a rival trafficker in November. They rounded up residents, then raked the empty village with American-made AR-15 rifles.

The destruction of Zazalpa is just one of dozens of unrelated drug skirmishes in Mexico with a common element: American guns.

I wonder if anyone could think of another "common element." Like, maybe the Mexican drug smugglers shooting the American guns?

Combat-style rifles are pouring into Mexico, aided by the end of the U.S. Assault Weapons Ban in 2004 and an arms race among several Mexican cartels battling for control of lucrative drug routes.

The weapons are purchased at stores and gun shows, then smuggled into Mexico under car seats or tucked into suitcases.

Nah, let's not blame the criminals first or even the porous borders that allow the "pouring" of combat-style rifles into Mexico. Let's blame the expiration of the U.S. Assault Weapons Ban-- a sunset even the NYT has admitted didn't live up to the "dire predictions that the streets would be awash in military-style guns." Instead, the expiration of the ban has "not set off a sustained surge in the weapons' sales, gun makers and sellers say. It also has not caused any noticeable increase in gun crime."

But seizures across Mexico show guns are still getting in. The number of weapons confiscated by Mexican authorities has been rising almost uninterrupted since 2002 and reached 10,579 in 2005. The 2006 catch looks to be even bigger, with more than 8,200 guns seized as of June.

Ninety percent of those weapons come from the United States, Mexico says.

"Rising almost interrupted since 2002," huh? That would mean the seizures went up for at least two years while the Assault Weapons Ban was in place, from 2002-2004. But I thought the ban expiration was to blame? Also, "ninety percent of those weapons" may come from the United States, but I'd bet near the same percentage of criminals using them do not.

After that comes a scary segment of the article on gun shows with "jet-black AR-15s" and "menacing-looking flare-launchers," and modifiers that turn semi-automatics into "rat-a-tatting machine guns." Seriously, the article says "rat-a-tatting." Hey, Mr. Reporter Man. Need me to hold your purse for you while you write? Sheesh.

"Now, there are more weapons available out there to the general public, and in turn those weapons find themselves in the wrong hands," said Sigberto Celaya, resident agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Tucson.

The assault rifle of choice is the AR-15, a variant of the U.S. Army's famous M-16. The AK-47, a Russian design now made by several U.S. manufacturers, runs second.

"They lifted that (federal Assault Weapons Ban), and now these weapons are being sold like candy," Santiago Vasconcelos said.

Of course, those are the same weapons whose post-ban versions were only cosmetically different from those produced before it passed and since it sunset, so I'm not sure why that would make a difference in the number of crimes perpetrated with them. Let's read about the AR-15, shalll we? This, once again, from the famously gun-friendly NYT: 

Then, by making minor changes in design, they were able to produce, as they called them, ''post-ban'' assault weapons that were the functional equivalent of the originals.

Colt came out with a ''sporterized'' version of its popular AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, leaving off some military features that were ''meaningless as far as its lethality,'' said Carlton S. Chen, vice president and general counsel for Colt.

''People might think it looks less evil,'' Mr. Chen said, ''but it's the same weapon. It was a hoax, a Congressional hoax, to ban all these different features.''

Back to the Republic:

Seven states still ban such weapons, along with Washington, D.C., and some cities in Ohio and Illinois. The states are: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

Newark's murder rate reached its highest level in a decade this past year. D.C. is the kind of city that celebrates finally not being the country's murder capitial due to about a 30-body drop in homicides. Of course, many people attribute the drop in D.C. homicides to the "crime emergency" declared after a killing spree this summer. So, if that's the standard, then by all means, reinstate the ban!

Nationwide, in a country of 110 million people, there are only 4,323 weapons legally held by citizens, the Mexican government says.

You see, Mexico's gun-control laws are much stricter than ours and see how well that's working out for them? Gun-law-breakers will buy guns despite gun-control laws because they don't care about the laws. I don't know why people don't grasp this.

U.S. gunmakers say they are not responsible for the violence, stressing they sell only to licensed U.S. retailers.

Uhh, they say that because they're not responsible.

Gunmakers also note that in the United States, the crime rate has dropped in recent years despite an increase in the number of guns in civilian hands.

The classic gun-control advocate's "duh!" moment. More guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens means less crime? It's not a paradox.

It's unclear how many of Mexico's weapons come from Arizona, but the state is a major producer of firearms.

Attacking the local economy, for good measure.

The solution to Mexican criminals coming across the border, buying guns, and taking them back across the border to commit crimes? Why, punish law-abiding Americans, of course!

"We need to open the private arms market to inspection and create a detailed registry to know how many people have a pistol and how they got it," said Arturo Arango, an investigator with the Citizens' Institute for Studies on Insecurity in Mexico...

Reimposing the U.S. Assault Weapons Ban would go a long way toward stemming violence long the border, Santiago Vasconcelos said..."These weapons come from your country, we know that for a fact," he told The Republic.

I'm pretty sure there are plenty more ironies to anger folks in this article-- for instance, the fact that Guardsmen on the border go unarmed for their job of protecting Americans from, among other things, Mexican criminals and drug cartel types while the Americans they're unable to protect properly are being castigated for allowing those criminals to buy guns in their country. That's just one I can think of off the top of my head.

On the bright side, maybe Calderon can get a handle on the drug gangs?