No one in this country knows better than New Yorkers what "devastation" looks like. On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center buildings and their surrounding area were reduced to rubble, burying nearly 3,000
Americans. To this day, the images are difficult to comprehend; they show a concentration of man-made destruction unprecedented in the United States and perhaps anywhere on Earth.
New York's current murder rate pales in comparison to that of 2001, of course. But it also pales in comparison to what it was in other years gone by. Due in part to crime-fighting programs adopted under former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, New York City's murder rate is only a fifth of what it was 20 years ago.
Presumably, New Yorkers are well aware of the relative safety in which they live today. However, the current mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has a skewed perspective even though the September 11 anniversary is front and center in every news outlet today due to other controversies.
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With New York City's and the nation's murder rates lower than anytime since the 1960s, Bloomberg sounded the alarm, saying "Illegal guns and their accompanying violence devastate communities across our country."
Bloomberg revisited his perennial cause célèbre —gun control—because his anti-gun group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), has issued an Issue Brief urging Congress to "close the gun show loophole"—gun control supporters' Orwellian "doublespeak" for "prohibit private sales of firearms at gun shows and everywhere else."
Since U.S. crime rates are so low, MAIG invoked Mexico's war with its drug cartels, repeating the soundbite first heard in 2009, when Attorney General Eric Holder tried to use Mexico's problem as the excuse for reinstating the federal "assault weapons" ban. "In fact, 90% of guns recovered and traced from Mexican crime scenes originated from gun dealers in the United States," MAIG says.
Discovering that geography is more than a subject taught in elementary and middle schools, MAIG adds its revelation that "four in ten of the U.S. guns recovered in Mexico between 2006 and 2009 were originally sold by gun dealers in Texas. The three other states that share a border with Mexico – Arizona, California, and New Mexico – were the source for another one-third of the U.S. guns."
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Of course, the operative words in the "90 percent" soundbite are "and traced." The GAO has already reported that most guns seized in Mexico, from cartels or anyone else, have not originated in the United States. For example, GAO noted, "In 2008, of the almost 30,000 firearms that the Mexican Attorney General's office said were seized, only around 7,200, or approximately a quarter, were submitted to ATF for tracing." The others were not submitted for tracing, presumably in many cases because their markings indicated that they were not traceable to the U.S.
For all their effort, Bloomberg and MAIG got scant coverage by the news media. But the debate will likely continue over how many guns are smuggled from the U.S. to Mexico, what percentage of the cartels' guns originate in the U.S., and from which countries the cartels obtain their machine guns, grenades and other weapons that are unavailable in the United States.
One thing is sure, however: Americans have greater access to U.S. guns than does anyone in Mexico, and our murder rates pale in comparison to those of our southern neighbor. For example, the murder rate of Juarez is nearly 100 times higher than that of El Paso, just across the border. If anything, that's a criticism of Mexican laws, which prohibit honest people from getting guns with which to protect themselves.