In our never-ending 24/7 news cycle, events can fade away quickly. So don’t feel too bad if you don’t remember the disappearance of dozens of Mexican college students last year in the city of Iguala, Mexico. The news disappeared from our airwaves within a couple of days, to be replaced by more horror stories of the drug cartels operating in Mexico and beyond.
A new report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the disappearance of those college students is worth reading, however. As you do, keep in mind that Mexico is home to very restrictive gun laws. In fact, there’s only one gun store in the entire country, located on a military base in Mexico City. Civilians are also restricted as to what kinds of firearms they can own.
Yet the country’s gun laws are ignored by the drug cartels and corrupt government officials. Increasingly, ordinary Mexicans are ignoring the laws as well and carrying firearms for self-defense, but that wasn’t the case when it came to these college students. They were unarmed and helpless against their cartel killers. Even federal military and law enforcement officers present failed to come to their aid.
Instead, as the Christian Science Monitor reported, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found that at the very least, federal law enforcement and military “failed to intervene to stop a widespread attack on unarmed civilians.” The attack was waged not just on the 43 students, according to the report, but on around 180 people. The violence went on for hours, at multiple locations throughout Iguala, and was largely carried out by local police forces “ordered by an unknown command.”
Every so often you’ll hear gun control advocates proclaim that we need to change our gun laws in the United States in order to make Mexico a safer place. Does anybody really think that an ineffective gun control law in the United States is going to stop multinational criminal enterprises? I think we’d be more likely to end up with a crime rate resembling Mexico’s. The disappearance of the college students in Iguala, and the continued questions surrounding the attack on their lives by authorities, demonstrate Mexico’s problems are profoundly serious—unlike the unserious suggestion that more U.S. gun laws are the answer to that country’s runaway violence.