By Catherine Lin
The Blue and Gold (Shilin, Taipei, Taiwan)
On Feb. 14, 19-year-old student Nicholas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, with a semiautomatic rifle. The bullets sprayed for three minutes.
In the aftermath, Democrats have called for tougher gun regulations and attempted to push through bills mandating stricter background checks. Republicans have invoked the Second Amendment and appealed to individual liberty. While this focus on preserving American lives or American values is understandable, U.S. gun regulations also have deep international consequences that should not be overlooked.
The U.S. civilian gun market, with its lenient regulations, fuels small arms trafficking in Latin America, allowing criminals easy access to military-style weapons. Criminal organizations typically use straw purchases–buying a gun on behalf of someone who cannot legally buy one themselves – to obtain guns in the United States, then smuggle the firearms across the border. The nearer the country is to the United States, the more severe the impact: In Mexico, drug cartels procure 90 percent of their guns from the U.S.
The semiautomatic rifles that have proved so deadly during American mass shootings in San Bernardino, California; Orlando, Florida, and more have proved equally dangerous in countries like Brazil, Venezuela, and Columbia, contributing to some of the highest homicide rates in the world. In response to these high rates, many Latin American countries have tightened their own gun laws. But the U.S. sabotages their efforts by refusing to follow suit.
Yet, many continue to claim that widespread gun ownership combats crime. David French of the National Review, for example, recently argued that tighter regulations would put good citizens at risk when they are accosted by criminals. “Limit the size of the magazine to, say, ten rounds, and you’ve placed the law-abiding homeowner at a disadvantage,” he wrote.
The assertion that people need guns to stop criminals with guns may appear to make sense in the hypothetical, but it is rendered ridiculous when the black market for guns in Latin America is taken into account. U.S. gun laws make the world less safe, not just for Americans, but also for everyone else.
Featured Photo: Wikimedia Commons