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San Francisco, CA – Global Exchange and its Stop US Arms to Mexico project applaud the introduction in Congress of two critical bills that, if enacted, would reduce the devastating violence in Mexico. The federal assault weapons ban, introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and bipartisan legislation for universal background checks for gun purchases (H.R. 8) would help stem the flow of illegal guns to Mexico. These weapons are used in a growing number of homicides, forced disappearances, extortion, human trafficking, and rape of Central American migrants as well as Mexican residents.

“The federal government’s renewal of the ban on assault weapons and requirement for all gun sales to pass background checks are critical for stopping bloodshed and crime in Mexico, as well as in the United States,” said John Lindsay-Poland, who directs the Stop US Arms to Mexico project  Data recently released by the Mexican military indicates that authorities recovered at least 12,000 assault weapons at crime scenes since 2006.

A University of California Los Angeles study of gun tracing data found that implementation of multiple laws to prevent gun violence – including requiring background checks for gun re-sales, restricting the sale of assault weapons, and limiting multiple gun sales – significant reduces trafficking of guns from the United States to Mexico. Another study by New York University researchers found that the expiration of the federal assault weapons ban in 2004 led to hundreds of annual additional gun deaths in northern Mexican states, independent of conflicts between drug cartels.

Seventy percent of crime guns recovered in Mexico and traced were purchased in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and Mexico experienced 23,672 gun homicides last year, more than any year in recorded history. (The United States suffered less than 14,000 gun homicides in 2018.)

“The easy availability of guns, especially the assault weapons preferred by criminal organizations, is pushing up violence and homicide rates in Mexico as well as its southern neighbors — creating conditions that break families and communities and push people into the migration stream,” said Global Exchange Human Rights Director, Ted Lewis.

Global Exchange urges constituents to ask Members of Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 8 (universal background checks) and S. 66 (assault weapons ban). Individuals can reach their Congressional Representatives by calling the Congressional Switchboard, 202-224-2131.

Photo: March for Our Lives, 2018. Win McNamee, Getty Images.
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