So Much for the Feinstein-Calderón "Spillover" Theory

Posted on April 20, 2012

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Since the first few weeks of the Obama administration, America has been periodically told that the "lack" of U.S. gun control laws, particularly the now-defunct federal "assault weapon" ban of 1994-2004, is directly responsible for violence committed by Mexican drug cartels, and that the same violence will "spill over" into the United States.

For example, in March 2009, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the author of the expired ban, issued a press release calling attention to a letter she sent to President Obama, urging him to push for Senate ratification of the "Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials," the gun control treaty commonly referred to as "CIFTA," signed by President Clinton in 1997.

In the letter, Feinstein said "The bottom line is this: Mexican drug cartels are spewing death and destruction across large swaths of territory along the U.S.-Mexican border which will inevitably spill over to the American side and threaten American lives."

Two months later, Obama did what Feinstein asked. Meeting with Mexico's president, Felipe Calderón, in Mexico City, Obama said "As President Calderón and I discussed, I am urging the Senate in the United States to ratify an inter-American treaty known as CIFTA to curb small arms trafficking that is a source of so many of the weapons used in this drug war."

The following year, Calderón reiterated the "spillover" theme in a speech to Congress, saying, at 25:32 in this C-Span video, "if you do not regulate the sale of these weapons the right way, nothing guarantees that criminals here in the United States, with access to the same power weapons, will not decide to challenge American authorities and civilians."

Instances of violence committed against border-state Americans, by smugglers and bandits entering the United States from the south, have certainly occurred.  But, as reported by Diana Washington Valdez of the El Paso Times, "The Mexican drug‑cartel wars that fueled soaring homicide rates south of the border have not led to significant 'spillover' violence on the U.S. side of the border, according to a new national report released Thursday."

According to the report, "Beyond the Border Buildup," "The threat of the horrors in Mexico reaching U.S. soil is a regular theme of speeches and declarations from legislators" and others.

But, "The four (U.S.) border states themselves are becoming rapidly safer. (FBI) statistics show all violent crime dropping by 11 percent, and homicides dropping by 19 percent, between 2005 and 2010 in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas."

The report's and Ms. Valdez' comparisons of the murder rates of cities on each side of the border in 2010 illustrate the point.  In Tijuana, the murder rate was 80.6 per 100,000 residents, while in San Diego it was 2.2.  In Juarez, 282.7, but in El Paso, 0.8.  In Nogales, 103.5; in Tucson, 9.7.  In Matamoros, 18.8; in Brownsville, 3.9.

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