When international organizations come together to debate the impact of the cross-border trade of small arms, they often focus on regions of civil war and conflict in Africa and the Middle East. That allows the US to keep the blame at arm’s reach, but domestic US arms dealers contribute significantly to criminal armed groups in Mexico and Central America.
In the four years from 2007 to 2011, Mexican authorities interdicted 68,000 guns that the ATF was able to source back to the US, and that only includes weapons that had serial numbers, not weapons assembled in Mexico from unmarked American parts. The GAO has conducted studies in 2009, but the office needs more reliable data—data which it won’t be able to obtain, since most gun smugglers don’t report their activities to the US government.
At least the US has stopped the practice of “gun-walking,” where agencies identify smugglers, let them buy weapons and watch them cross the border in hopes of catching their connection in Mexico. The US owes it to its neighbors not to let their police be outgunned by criminal gangs, and the US ought to act more forcefully, so the next UN debate doesn’t focus on us.