John Lindsay-Poland, Senator De León and Kirsten Moller at California capitol building in Sacramento

On January 10, 2012  on behalf of Global Exchange I joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Brady campaign in the California Capitol building in Sacramento to provide a support testimony for Senator De León’s Senate Joint Resolution No. 10 that calls for a comprehensive approach to stop the trafficking of illegal weapons and ammunition across the border into Mexico.

The resolution which passed the committee by a majority will be submitted to the full legislature later this spring.

It urges the President and Congress to pursue a comprehensive approach to stem the trafficking of illicit United States firearms and ammunition into Mexico enhancing collaboration among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies by:

  • the allocation of a permanent source of federal funding to sustain local and state law enforcement operations to combat firearms trafficking and other border-related crimes,
  • the redirection of federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and United States Customs and Border Protection resources towards this effort,
  • reenactment of a strong federal assault weapons ban, along with a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines,
  • stronger federal authority to crack down on corrupt gun dealers,
  • extending Brady criminal background checks to all gun sales, including all sales at gun shows to prevent firearms trafficking, and the maintenance of firearm purchase records to help law enforcement track down armed criminals and solve gun crimes.

Here is the statement we made yesterday:

We’ve travelled here today to testify on this measure to control firearms trafficking because we’ve been convinced by our Mexican friends and colleagues that loose regulation of firearms in the U.S. facilitates a massive illegal weapons flow to the South that, in turn, helps fuel a bloody conflict that has resulted in the murder of at least 45,000 Mexicans since the end of 2006.  Sen. DeLeón’s SJR 10 resolution brings needed attention to this too often ignored issue while suggesting practical measures to reduce weapons smuggling.

As SJR 10 documents, Mexico has experienced a terrifying spiral of violence following an escalation of the war for drug prohibition by President Felipe Calderón at the end 2006.  The underlying causes of the war and for the spiking body count are complex and controversial, but there is broad consensus across most sectors in Mexico that easy access to weaponry smuggled from the United States is a major contributing factor to the growing mayhem.

SJR 10 correctly identifies the urgent need for action at the Federal level –by Congress and the President to cooperate in developing comprehensive limits on the trafficking of weapons and ammunition into Mexico.

In 2012 Alianza Civica (Civic Alliance), – traditionally Mexico’s premier election observation and electoral watchdog organization asked Global Exchange and other US human rights organizations to join them in a Mexican led petition campaign that echoes the concerns voiced in SJR 10 in terms of limiting the import of assault weapons to the United States and providing far stricter enforcement powers to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

This campaign against weapons smuggling has been given full and explicit support by Javier Sicilia, the renowned Mexican poet who, along with other victims of Mexico’s violence, is leading a massive peace movement he helped found after his son was murdered — along with six young friends — in March last year.

In recent months, even leaders of this peace movement have been targeted. On November 28th, Nepomuceno Moreno Núñez, a prominent movement activist, was gunned down in his home town of Hermosillo, Sonora in northwestern Mexico.
His offense? Being persistent in seeking justice in the case of his 18 year old son Jorge Mario Moreno León, who was kidnapped and disappeared in July, 2010.

California can send an important message to Washington with the passage of SJR 10.  Please support this important Resolution.