US guns help fuel El Salvador's violence

There were 4279 murders committed with firearms in El Salvador during 2016.   That was 81% of all murders committed.    When a gun is the murder weapon, chances are the gun originated in the United States.

An article at The Trace titled American Guns Drive the Migrant Crisis That Trump Wants to Fix With a Wall, argues that lax US gun control policies fuel both violence in Central America and the migrant crisis formed of persons fleeing that same violence.   Trump's commitment to gun rights may be working at cross purposes with his goal to shut down migration from south of the US border.  
Weapons seized by Salvadoran
 police on May 23

The article describes the smuggling networks which buy guns at US gun shops and move the guns south towards Central America:
Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador each tightly restricts civilian gun ownership. The smaller Central American nations have no domestic firearms industries to speak of. But over the past few decades, guns have poured into the region, sourced from the vast civilian gun market in the United States and smuggled to Central America in the trunks of cars or sneaked into packages alongside common household items. In one recent bust, an Ohio gun shop owner was caught selling dozens of guns — including 62 Barrett .50 caliber rifles, the same weapons used by Navy SEAL snipers, at approximately $8,000 apiece — to a group who drove them down to McAllen, Texas, and across the Rio Grande. 
Played out by hundreds of similar trafficking syndicates, such schemes form a trans-border, southbound equivalent to the “Iron Pipeline,” the busy smuggling route from states in the American South with loose gun laws to states like New York that more strictly regulate firearms. 
As many as a quarter to half of all guns seized by police in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador and submitted for tracing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are sourced to the United States — a total of 5,928 firearms in 2014 and 2015 alone, easily making America the single largest source of weapons in these countries.
Read the rest of the article here.


Greg said…
While in El Salvador from 1982 - 1985, U.S. advisers and Salvadoran commando units from the Army and Navy intercepted numerous arms shipments to the FILM.

The primarily military arms and munitions coming from Nicaragua were traced by serial number. They were found to have been Vietnam era arms captured by the North Vietnamese after the South fell.

The FMLN cached thousands of such weapons at the conclusion of the civil war. Many of these now back in play for years via MS-13 and other criminal gangs.

Sporting and civilian arms from the U.S. have long been smuggled into Central and South America. Drug gangs and insurgencies such as those represented by the early FMLN, FMLN, Aging Path and so on funding these illegal shipments.

In all fairness to culture and history, the most common form of mayhem is the machete although in Columbia the chain saw was a favorite means of intimidation and murder as well.
Greg makes excellent points. And yes, the US is a major global manufacturer of guns, so it's little wonder that the majority of guns in ES originate in the US.

But Canada has a vast number of guns per capita, (one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world), but has a very low incidence of gun crimes. Because we don't shoot them at each other.

Easy access to guns may be a contributing factor, but the root cause of violence in ES lies elsewhere. In my experience looking at high crime areas, the sooner a culture can identify the root cause, and stop blaming guns, the sooner a real solution to violence can be found.