Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Follow the Mexican gun money trail

It isn't particularly surprising that a lot of money is involved in the Mexican drug cartel operation. There's a lot of money to be had for all of those drugs that make their way into the U.S. illegally. Illegal activity, of course, leads to more illegal activity. The Star Tribune has posted an illuminating article about how the money angle works into the smuggling of illegal guns into Mexico. Several months ago, I wrote a post about how a Minnesota Mexican American became involved in the gun running business. Paul Giovanni de la Rosa of Medford, Minnesota purchased so many guns from gun dealers in Minnesota that his activity raised some warning signs and he was reported to the ATF. It shouldn't surprise us then, that a bank account was found in Texas that was linked to this man's Minnesota account providing him with the money he needed to purchase his guns for the cartel. Giovanni needed the money as per the article linked above: "Running guns to Mexico, on the other hand, could net a successful smuggler tens of thousands of dollars in a year -- money that could pay for the trappings of a suburban lifestyle. It was the kind of money that could convince even a smart man that it might be worth the risk of getting caught." 

Common sense tells us that de la Rosa is not the only person engaging in this sort of activity. Like Giovanni, there are those who will do anything to make money. There are only so many of the estimated 2000 guns a day smuggled across the U.S. Mexican border that can be provided by one person. As more investigations of this sort happen, I'm sure we will find out that many more Americans are aiding the Mexican drug cartel in gun running that is leading to thousands of senseless shootings of our neighbors to the south. This is a terrible tragedy for Mexico. Americans hunger for drugs and the willingness of American citizens, gun dealers and our own flawed laws that allow for people without background checks to get their guns at gun shows from private sellers are complicit in lost lives. Gun dealers and gun shows abound in the Mexican border states. It turns out though that states to the North through the "Iron Pipeline" are helping the drug cartel as well. Following the money may be the way to stop some of the illegal gun running.

And what is the gun lobby doing about this? They are denying that it is happening even though the evidence is mounting and cannot be ignored. Why? There is a simple answer. Selling guns in this country is a huge business. Guns are not cheap. For some dealers, anything goes as long as they can make the sale. For some private sellers, we know that they are willing to sell a gun without a background check to anyone who wants to buy one to make a sale. Drugs and guns are big business. Greed makes for more greed and the cycle continues. If it is stopped, a lot of people will be out of the money and into trouble. This is national and international problem that we must own. Shame on us all for putting our heads in the sand. Dealing with the problem will require courage and conviction that doing so is the right thing to do. Courage will be needed to fight the push back from the NRA and its' many members who think that any measure to deal with the Mexican drug/gun situation will surely lead to taking away their rights to buy and own their guns. This is nonsense, of course, but it is believed by enough people, including our own elected leaders who fear the wrath of the NRA that they choose to do nothing. Again, where is common sense?

41 comments:

  1. JOan,

    Wouldn't it be common sense to address the illegal smuggling of drugs first?

    Then the criminals wouldn't have money nor reason to purchase firearms, eh.

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  2. Common sense, although it appears to be a good thing, is deeply flawed principle and can be quite dangerous. While I haven't had the time to read every comment thread of this blog, it might have come up already. It was common sense in the south that slavery was acceptable. It was common sense in certain parts of the world that punishment for blasphemy should be death (for Christian, Muslim, and other faiths). It was common sense for the Aztecs to have human sacrifice. It was common sense to have witches burned at the stake. Common sense only makes sense for those who have it in common. For gun lovers, their common view makes a lot of sense since there are plenty of others with their same view. Ditto for gun haters.

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  3. Anon- first one- It makes sense to tackle the drug problem but not necessarily first. Both can be done hand in hand and should be.

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  4. Anon- second one-Yes, I see your point. Common sense can be applied to causes that are not good for people for sure and have been. In this case, it is also the right thing to do. If you don't think that stopping people from being shot and trying to reduce gun deaths and injuries, is that common sense? And, by the way, I am not a gun hater. Your common sense is telling you the wrong thing when it comes to that.

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  5. I think there's a couple of issues that common sense would demand we investigate.

    1. How much effect would more US regulations have on violence in Mexico? Of course some guns come from here (whatever percentage) as the cartels are like any organization and buy tools from the cheapest supplier ... but they need guns at any price. So if we do all kinds of restrictions here will it have any effect on the cartels' but to raise their cost per gun by $10?

    2. This is an issue Mexico has, shouldn't they be dealing with it? They fought us on building a fence along the border, maybe it's time to do that? If we could cut the Southern border off it would both limit smuggling of drugs in (and therefore money out) and the number of guns going South. But in any case ... first and foremost it is a Mexican issue ... and while I'm happy we're helping them with it, I don't think we're the real problem.

    Dealing with the Mexican problem in a real way that will protect our own liberties and force the government of Mexico to deal with their own issues will require courage and conviction that our liberties are as important as anyone else's. Courage will be needed to fight the anti-gun groups and their few (but vocal) members who think that any measure to deal with the Mexican drug/gun situation will be acceptable (and a wonderful excuse to do what they haven't been able to otherwise), no matter how severely it limits our own rights and liberties.

    This is nonsense, of course, and thankfully the NRA and other pro-rights organizations are fighting against it. For these organizations once again using an issue not related to American's to restrict our liberties I would say again, where is common sense?

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  6. Your sarcasm is dripping but anyway- the reason we have to help Mexico deal with this is because it is our citizens who want the drugs and our citizens who are providing many of the guns.

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  7. This is much more of a border security issue than a gun issue...

    People, guns, drugs, money, vehicles, heavy arms all move relatively freely across the border. We need to fix that first IMHO.

    With the border secure, the implementing measures on the problems becomes infinitely easier.

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  8. JOan,

    Why wouldn't it make sense to tackle the drug problem first?

    Drug cartel related and gang related activities accounts for 80% of all crime according the F.B.I.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-01-29-ms13_N.htm



    Addressing the drug culture would immediately reduce violence across the board, not just 'gun violence'.

    Addressing the drug culture would reduce the devastating effects seen in poor neighborhoods.
    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/62317/title/Most_prisoners_come_from_few_neighborhoods


    Addressing the drug culture would address the addiction factor in many domestic violence cases.

    Ninety-two percent of the domestic abuse assailants reported use of alcohol or other drugs on the day of the assault, according to a recent JAMA report.
    http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/abuse/a/aa990331.htm

    Let's use some common sense on where we should be focusing our effort, don't you agree?

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  9. +1 for security issue:

    "The Mexican border town of Guadalupe has been left with no police force after the last officer was kidnapped."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12085405

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  10. We contribute to the Mexican crime problem only by our continued unquenchable demand for illegal drugs.

    1) Seal the border. Fences, increased border patrol, unlimited rules of engagement.

    2) Stop the flow of drugs.

    Then we can talk about restricting freedoms in America. Once the border with Mexico is sealed, then they'll have to deal with their own problems.

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  11. There is no plausible way that more, or different, gun control in the US would affect the violent behavior of drug cartels in that hopelessly corrupt, third-world country.

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  12. Prohibition in the US saw the rise of the classic "organized crime gangster".

    The end of prohibition took the profit out of bootlegging, and organized crime was forced to seek other revenue sources. But the big take away is that killing the major cash source radically curbed the crime associated with Prohibition.

    We can't get rid of all crime, but we can get rid of a lot of it. Following Portugal's example of decriminalizing recreational amounts of drugs would be a start.

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  13. I am not willing to give up my rights to compensate for unrelated failures in Mexican government. If either Mexico or the US would legalize drugs, this problem would be over instantly.

    I would like to follow the money--I would like to have proof of the sources of Mexican guns--which came from the US legitimately and were diverted once in Mexico, which ones were smuggled from third countries by the experienced international smugglers in Mexico, and what small percentage came from the US. The guns shown by the media as recovered from Mexico are generally types effectively not available in Mexico, types that are worth far more as a legal gun here than they are anywhere else in the world.

    I would also like to know who the first Mexican customer is for the diverted US guns--Is it the drug lords, or is it desperate Mexican citizens trying to defend themselves?

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  14. Sevesteen- the article from the Star Tribune clearly shows that American citizens are smuggling guns into Mexico. That is just one example of this happening. There are others. If the citizens were buying guns for self defense, I expect that fewer of them would be killed in the cross fire? Since you guys think that guns would protect you from being shot by criminals. why isn't this happening more if there were low income people ( as many of the citizens in Mexico are) buying pretty expensive semi automatic guns? Many of those killed are opposing cartel members, elected officials and law enforcement.

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  15. Typo in my last comment--should have said "The guns shown by the media as recovered from Mexico are generally types effectively not available in the US",

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  16. Joan - I think you put to much faith in media.

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  17. One of the Anonymous guys asked twice, why not fight the drug problem first.

    This is a common attempt to divert attention from the point at hand. No one ever said we choose between fighting the Holy War on Drugs or the Holy War on Gun Smuggling. We already do both, perhaps badly, but it's not an either/or deal.

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  18. Mike is right, we can do both. Legalize drugs here, and legalize guns in Mexico. The problem would pretty much go away.

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  19. MikeB302000,

    The problem is you aren't fighting the drug problem.

    You don't focus time, energy or effort on the drug problem.

    You don't call for new legislation, changes to society or address the underlying issues of the drug problem.

    In short, you ignore the drug issue and focus solely on the infringement of rights of the law abiding people.

    Why do you lie about "already do both"?

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  20. In case you missed it, anon- both Mike B and are are blogging about the violence due to guns. Yes, we can do both at one time and work together with others but our focus is on the guns. Others focus on the drugs and don't get into the gun issue. That is the way things work. People can only do so much so they choose the issue they want to be involved with.

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  21. Joan,

    MikeB302000 exact words were "We already do both, perhaps badly, but it's not an either/or deal. "

    We doesn't mean just others -- it means him and others.

    We, apparently referred to you also. I don't see your focus being on drugs anywhere on this blog. I don't see any information in the news about you focusing on drugs.

    So, apparently either MikeB302000 has a split personality or he doesn't know what the word "we" means.

    The point that I was and am making about the drug problem is simple.
    If you focus on it, and only it, it removes many of the factors that creates gun violence.

    Focusing on just gun violence does nothing to address those factors.

    Isn't it common sense to focus on the causes of the problem and not the tools used?

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  22. No, I believe he meant the collective "we". I can't believe how literal you guys are. You can't seem to appreciate any nuances to the language used.

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  23. JOan,

    Again, even in the collective sense - please show me where gun control advocates like you and MikeB302000 have pushed for drug law reform or change

    Please show me where gun control advocacy groups like Million Mom March, Citizens for a Safer Minnesota or the Brady Campaign have pushed for drug law reform or change.

    Collective or not, I don't see any effort other than toward ever more restrictive laws directed at firearms.

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  24. Again- too literal. Mike B and I are both trying to say "we" meaning collectively as a country and not ourselves or any organizations to which we belong. My organizations do not work on drug issues because we are so busy working on gun issues.

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  25. Joan,

    You are completely missing the point -- the drug problem is one of the biggest factors in the 'gun issues'.

    Resolve that and gun violence will drop faster and more than the result of any background check, registration, safe storage law.

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  26. And I would say that you are missing my point so I guess we are even.

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  27. Joan,

    I get your point, you want to make the process of purchasing, owning and carrying a firearm extremely complex, over regulated, expensive and so monitored by the federal government that the average person doesn't do it.

    And you want to do all this in the vain hope of impacting 'gun violence'.

    None of the studies have provided conclusive evidence that gun control works.

    No evidence in the states or other countries.

    None.

    Given that 'gun crime' comprises less than 10% of all violent crime but gang and drug trade organization activities comprise the majority of violent crime -- where does it make sense to focus our efforts?

    Isn't it common sense to direct our efforts where we will have the greatest impact and the least infringement of our rights?

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  28. I'll say it one more time in case you have missed what I am blogging about. Too many people lose their lives to shootings every day. I want to prevent them and reduce them. That is what I am about. I will not quit no matter what you think I should do so maybe you should have a suggestion of how I can do it better or maybe you would like to join in my efforts to keep guns from people who shouldn't have them and to prevent shootings. It would behoove you to be in that camp actually and since it won't affect you being that you are a law abiding citizen, you should be supporting my efforts.

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  29. Joan,

    I have a suggestion.

    I've told you that suggestion several times.

    Stop focusing on the issue of "gun crime" and start focusing on the illegal drug trade.

    You want to require law abiding citizens to conduct background checks.

    The drug cartels break laws daily and have the money to pay for dozens of people to conduct straw purchases.

    Even if you get the back ground check law, all you do is increase the cost of a firearm.

    Law abiding people will suffer more than criminals.

    You want to pass a 'lost or stolen' law to reduce straw purchases.

    The drug cartels can 'break' into any number of houses to stage 'robberies'.
    They are criminals, one more criminal act won't matter to them.

    You want to pass a "one gun a month" law.

    Drug cartels will simply increase the number of straw purchases -- or hey...they might smuggle firearms in from other countries.

    Many guns are stolen because people pawn them or sell them to other criminals to support their drug habit.

    Reduce the number of people illegally using drugs, you reduce the number of people who will commit illegal acts to support their drug habit.

    Secure the border to reduce the number of drugs and guns flowing in either direction.

    You won't need to have a long gun reporting requirement.

    Time and time again common sense says that addressing the drug problem will lower 'gun violence' and lower property crimes and other violent crimes.

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  30. Thanks, but no thanks, for your suggestions.

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  31. Japete,

    You keep saying 'gun violence'--but the only solutions you want to consider are restrictions on lawful ownership. You focus the majority of your attention on the tiny fraction of shootings involving until then law abiding people, rather than those who are directly responsible for the majority of the violence, gun or otherwise.

    I am also against most violence, including all non-defensive gun violence. Most of the gun violence I am against would end if drugs were legalized. Much of the rest would end if violent criminals went to jail more often and stayed longer--which could be done if there were fewer nonviolent drug criminals in jail.

    So if the problem is really gun violence rather than lawful gun ownership, the drug war is absolutely relevant.

    But if the problem is actually ownership by non-wealthy people, only legal restrictions will do.

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  32. Joan,

    We're going to continue having these conversations. The lives of innocents and the future of our country are at stake.

    I think a conceptual issue many pro-gun people have with gun control (aside from the obvious mention in the constitution), is it started not as a public safety concern, rather racial politics.

    New York passed the Sullivan Act in 1911, one of the first gun control laws. This law required that firearms small enough to be concealed on a person be registered.

    Taking in some historical context, in practice a person of influence would be granted the "right", but it was broadly denied to southern European immigrants.

    Similar policies, though more subtle, came out in the late 1960s in an effort to disarm the Black Panthers and other militant civil rights groups.

    In the past 100 years of the gun control debate, the "reason" has continually shifted. Given that, it's effectively a different, new argument every few decades.

    Read more: The history of gun control, part 1 http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=56047#ixzz1APUKua2A

    Thanks and God bless.

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  33. Yes, Sevesteen, working on the drug problem is relevant for sure. I am not sure about the legalization. Would you really want to legalize cocaine? I agree about violent criminals staying longer in prison or jail and as to nonviolent drug offenders in jail, I may agree with that, in part. The problem is not lawful gun ownership- it is with guns in the hands of those who should not have them- children, teens, domestic abusers, drug and alcohol abusers, felons, etc. I don't follow your statement about non-wealthy people, though. To what are you referring there?

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  34. Sean, I'm really not sure how we got from an obvious criminal running guns illegally to Mexico to this discussion. That is the way things get going on this blog. it digresses and gets off on topics that are unrelated. So here we are in this philosophical discussion about the history of gun control. "We're going to continue having these conversations. The lives of innocents and the future of our country are at stake." I am not sure what you mean by this sentence.

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  35. Joan,

    I just want to get this clear... The current system and laws on the books, when enforced, actually shut down an illegal straw purchasing and gun running operation.

    So, why do we need more laws, again?

    When you feel that they fail to work, you say we need more laws. When they do put a bad guy behind bars, we still need more laws. Is there any case in which the answer is fewer laws, smarter laws, or better enforced laws instead of more regulation?

    Right now a large degree of the regulatory and enforcement side of the house is focused on byzantine, non-violent issues. How many ATF agents are worrying about whether I abbreviate "Alaska" as "AK" on a form 4473? How many people at ATF are tied up making technical rulings on incredibly complicated technical firearms issues that ultimately don't affect public safety?

    If you were lobbying for better enforcement of laws already on the books and stiff punishments for actual criminals who actually knowingly commit violent crimes, I think there'd be more agreement.

    Cheers,
    Chris from AK

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  36. We are all in favor of enforcing those ubiqitous "laws already on the books" as is the constant refrain from the gun rights people. The problem with the laws is that there are some glaring problems- the largest of which is the private seller loophole that allows for people to buy guns without background checks. So we need to tweak the laws already on the books and make them consistent in order to stop some people from buying guns. As to stiff punishments- we are all in favor of that. Since that is not what the organizations working to prevent gun violence place their focus, we are not out there in public necessarily on that specific issue but we support it. There is only so much time and so much staff and so many volunteers. We have to maintain a focus on what we are all about. That does not mean we are not if favor of or support the other issues.

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  37. Would you really want to legalize cocaine?

    To adults, yes but keeping severe penalties for supplying it to children. I do not believe that legalization will significantly increase hard drug usage. The drug war transfers much of the cost away from the people who chose to take drugs to those of us who don't. Fourth amendment protections have been weakened, and illicit drug money supports awful things all over the world.

    The problem is not lawful gun ownership-it is with guns in the hands of those who should not have them- children, teens, domestic abusers, drug and alcohol abusers, felons, etc.

    But your side wants to restrict lawful gun owners from possessing just about any type of gun invented after 1900. You personally don't see a problem with the DC law that effectively bans all common semiautomatic handguns.

    I don't follow your statement about non-wealthy people, though. To what are you referring there?

    Most 'may issue' licensing requires wealth or connections to get licensed--differing amounts from place to place, but these laws disproportionately affect the poor and minorities. Lots of 'anti gun' celebrities have armed bodyguards--so guns are OK for the elite, but not for us little people.

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  38. You have an interesting take on this Sebastion. I don't see it the same way. The second amendment does not address cost of guns. They are a product sold privately on the market. Licensing costs are for the adminstritive work which law enforcement will tell you is significant. They are all under funded and barely have time to do the necessary paperwork for all those permits. Do you think states and counties should assume this cost? Good luck with that one.

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  39. Excuse me- that was for Sevesteen. Too many comments to moderate.

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  40. Normal market costs are what they are, and you are correct that the second doesn't address them.

    Artificial costs--taxes above and beyond other products, licensing (especially may-issue licenses to merely posses in the home) training requirements are relevant. When Ohio had no carry licenses, I would have voted against a may issue license system.

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  41. Bob S. (Anonymous) is right in pointing out that "we already do both" doesn't make sense if you take the "we" to mean me and others.

    I was referring to the broader picture of the government's efforts at fighting the drug problem and the gun smuggling problem. I really wasn't talking about myself, because as japete had pointed out numerous times to Bob's tedium, we blog about guns.

    My comment about our already doing both was directed at the first Anonymous commenter, who I don't think is Bob since it's brief and to the point.

    He seemed to be saying in a general way, we (Americans) should focus on the drug problem first before we (Americans) worry about guns.

    My response to that is we (all of us) already do both. It's not an either/or deal.

    japete, please allow Bob to use his real name. He's fooling no one.

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