We, the undersigning human rights organizations from the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, as well as from the Caribbean, and express our full support for the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021 (H.R. 1808), which the House of Representatives passed on July 29, as well as H.R. 2814 to hold gun producers accountable for irresponsible marketing practices. We also stand in support of greater restrictions on assault weapon exports as proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Joaquín Castro (TX-20). 

We call on Democratic leaders to highlight the human cost of U.S. assault weapons beyond the country’s borders and to support legislation to ban them internationally. Gun violence in Mexico and Central America, committed by both state and non-state forces, has grown to unprecedented levels in recent years. In Mexico, 25 percent of homicides were perpetrated with a gun during 2004 (the year the Assault Weapons Ban expired in the U.S.) However, this percentage has risen to 70 percent in 2020.

70% of firearms recovered from crime scenes in Mexico are trafficked from the United States. Successive Mexican administrations since 2006 have sought to address this gun violence with militarized strategies, with the vast majority of firearms used by state forces exported by the United States, Israel and several European nations. These weapons have not stemmed growing violence; instead, in many cases the weapons have furthered violence and forced migration.

Assault weapons are among the most demanded and used by drug cartels to commit disappearances, massacres, robberies, extortions, kidnappings and other atrocities. The effect of authorizing assault weapons in the border region, as proposed by Republican lawmakers, would be a boon to weapons traffickers, gun companies and dealers that are arming violent criminal organizations. Border-area gun dealers in Texas and Arizona already sell assault rifles with few restrictions on their illegal transfer into Mexico. 

We urge the Senate to move swiftly to ban the sale of assault weapons in all the United States, from which thousands of these weapons have been trafficked to criminal organizations. Too many people across the United States, Mexico and Central America are being senselessly gunned down by U.S.-sourced assault weapons. With easy access to military-style semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, many individuals have turned Mexico into a war zone filled with terror, devastation, and terrible loss.

U.S. assault weapons have also been exported to Mexican military and police units implicated in serious human rights abuses and collusion with organized crime. A study by the Mexican Commission for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights and Stop US Arms to Mexico found that 16,685 arms were lost or stolen from Mexican armed forces and state police between 2006 and 2019. Human rights violations, including disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial executions committed by Mexican security forces are rarely investigated and prosecuted in Mexico. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representatives Joaquin Castro and  Andy Levin each have spoken in Congressional hearings over the last week for greater restrictions on U.S. assault weapons exports, including to Mexico.

Military-style semi-automatic assault weapons are designed to efficiently kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time available. There is no reason for assault rifles, assault pistols, and assault shotguns to be sold on the civilian market in the United States or exported to Mexico or anywhere else in Latin America. 

Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos
Latin America Working Group
Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos
Programa de Seguridad Ciudadana, Universidad Iberoamericana
Global Exchange
ReverdeSer Colectivo
Causa en Común
Stop US Arms to Mexico
Casa Refugiados
Iglesias por la Paz
Global Thought
Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano
México Evalúa
Data Civica
Instituto RIA
Center for American Progress
Comite Central Menonita/ Mennonite Central Committee
Red Tira Paro
Red de Seguridad Humana para América Latina y El Caribe
Alianza Americas
Derechos de la Infancia y la Adolescencia, A.C. – Raquel Pastor Escobar, Directora
Alternativas de Divulgación
Organización Popular Independiente AC

Red x la infancia Ciudad Juárez.