“Easy and ready access to weapons in the U.S. has been exploited by organized crime in Mexico and used in some of the most gruesome violence you can imagine,” said Eric Olson, Associate Director of the Latin American Program at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. “We’re not taking a position on the Second Amendment -- that’s just what we’ve observed from the data.”

Olson asserts from an analytical standpoint that stricter gun laws in the U.S. could have a sizable impact in reducing the cartels’ access to weapons, particularly if there were legal measures to crack down on gun traffickers, which are currently lacking due to resistance in Congress among those who feel such measures would threaten the Second Amendment.

“There is no national gun registry, which makes it very difficult for the ATF to share information and coordinate with local law enforcement,” Olson said. “This is all being interpreted (by gun rights advocates) as an attempt to take away their guns. Meanwhile, more guns are being trafficked into Mexico.”

Olson said that without the resources to track down traffickers, law enforcement has no incentive to go after them, and the penalties for the original buyers, also referred to as “straw purchasers,” are minimal, with offenders only receiving small fines due to the difficulties of proving intent to purchase for distribution to criminal organizations.

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