Regulatory Challenges for Preventing Firearms Smuggling into Mexico

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Eugenio Weigend Vargas
Silvia Villarreal González


The recent surge in illegal firearms trafficking from the U.S. into Mexico has helped empower Mexican criminal groups to adopt highly confrontational strategies, contributing to a surge of violence throughout the country. This article addresses the regulatory asymmetries between Mexico and the U.S. with respect to the production, import, export, sales and possession of firearms. It reviews several important gun laws and explores why this asymmetry limits bilateral cooperation and encourages gray market activity. It also examines the autonomy of U.S. states to regulate firearms, as this creates a diverse regulatory map that complicates any effort to stem smuggling. The results are flourishing gray markets on one side of the border and violent criminal activity on the other.

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