President Barack Obama, speaking in Mexico City on Friday, said the United States is responsible for much of the crime and violence in Mexico because of the demand for drugs and the illegal smuggling of guns across the southern border.
He told the crowd, “We understand that the root cause of violence that’s been happening here in Mexico for which so many Mexicans have suffered is the demand for illegal drugs in the United States.” He later added, “We also recognize that most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States.”
Obama acknowledged the illegal smuggling of guns into Mexico by American criminals, but did not mention the Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious that allowed the flow of about 2,000 U.S. guns to Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Fast and Furious began in the fall of 2009 and was halted in December 2010 after two of the weapons from the DOJ gun walking program were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
“In the United States, we understand our responsibilities. We understand that the root cause of violence that’s been happening here in Mexico for which so many Mexicans have suffered is the demand for illegal drugs in the United States,” Obama said. “So we’ve got to continue to make progress on that front.”
Obama opposes legalizing drugs, but wants to approach the matter beyond just law enforcement.
“I’ve been asked, and I honestly do not believe that legalizing drugs is the answer,” the president said. “But I do believe that a comprehensive approach, not just law enforcement, but education and prevention and treatment, that’s what we have to do. We’re going to have to stay at it, because of the lives of our children and the futures of our nations depend on it.”
He went on to talk about America’s role in fueling gun violence in Mexico and pledged to the Mexican people to push harder for gun control in his own country, referencing the Second Amendment.
“We also recognize that most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States,” Obama said. “I think many of you know that in America, the Constitution guarantees our individual right to bear arms. As president, I swore an oath to uphold that right, and I always will.
“But at the same time, as I’ve said in the United States, I will continue to do everything in my power to pass common sense reforms to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people that can save lives here in Mexico and back home in the United States. It’s the right thing to do,” he said.
“We’ll keep increasing the pressure on gun traffickers who bring illegal guns into Mexico. We’ll keep putting these criminals where they belong, behind bars,” the president added.
Last month, an Obama-backed gun control measure for stricter background checks failed to pass the democratically controlled Senate.