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How New Gun Laws Could Impact Drug Cartels

Would tighter US restrictions on assault weapons cut violence in Mexico?

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A new ban might make assault weapons
more scarce for the cartels. Photo via

By Hunter R. Slaton

12/20/12

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After the tragic school shooting last Friday in Newton, Connecticut, the ongoing debate over gun control in the US has flared up yet again—and, according to UMass economist Arin Dube, what President Obama and Congress decide to do (or not) about these weapons could have repercussions in Mexico's ongoing drug war. According to Dube, after the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004, Mexican towns across the border from Arizona and Texas saw an uptick in gun violence, as the cartels armed themselves with this newly legal, high-powered weaponry. Yet the same thing did not happen in border towns near California, which maintained its own state-level ban on assault weapons. So it stands to reason that, if tighter restrictions were placed on guns in the US, the cartels might once again find it more difficult to get their hands on the deadliest weapons. But not everyone agrees, as Mexican Institute for Competitiveness analyst Alejandro Hope recently told National Public Radio's Marketplace Morning Report program. Violence near the US/Mexico border has many sources, Hope said: "It has to do with the shape and structure of drug markets. It has to do with Mexican government policy."

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