By Andrew Bullock

The American people have been taught by the media to fear many things, and often our leadership (think Iraq after 9/11) has taught us who our enemies are. For almost a decade now the most spoken of threats to American security have been Iraq, Iran, Al-Qaeda and North Korea, but a very grave threat only now being exposed by the media exists much closer to home.

When Mexican president Filipe Calderon declared an all-out drug war against cartels in 2006, the once-safe Mexican cities along the border with the United States suddenly became killing fields, and the thousands of murders that have occurred since have caused the U.S. State Department to issue travel warnings and kept cities on the American side of the border on high alert. Currently the most dangerous place is Juarez, a city of 1.5 million people that lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

The situation has been so grave that most local police in Mexico have either deserted or been removed in place of Mexican soldiers, who are now beginning to win the turf battle against highly organized cartels. One of the reasons why this war has gotten so bad is from a lack of understanding and communication between Mexico and the United States.

Many Americans believe that this a Mexican problem, and that the United States has little to do with the violence which is now spilling over onto our side of the border. This assumption could not be further from the truth; in fact, it is America's lax gun laws and insatiable appetite for drugs that keeps the Mexican cartels afloat.

The same tunnels that smuggle people and drugs into the United States bring high-powered assault weapons into Mexico, and frankly, I will come out and blame our gun laws. Assault weapons such as AK-47s and AR-15s have no practical purpose other than to kill people; I am tired of right-wing gun nuts pushing for these tools of death to stay legal just for the principle of owning them. Handguns defend people, shotguns hunt animals, and assault weapons fuel crime, plain and simple.

Why is it that the federal government continues to pump billions of dollars into anti-marijuana ads when cocaine, meth and heroin are the substances that provide the most profit for Mexican cartels and shatter the most American lives? Mexican cartels do sell marijuana, but they only produce the poorly-cultivated “shwag” weed. American law enforcement seems to mostly target highly potent marijuana, which ironically enough is usually grown in the United States.
The assault weapons ban that was overturned by President Bush in 2004 to please the NRA crowd needs to be put back into effect as soon as possible. While the cartels will of course find other sources of firearms, when 95 percent of all firearms used by cartels originate in the United States, cutting off American supply routes and outlawing the most dangerous guns will certainly put a dent in Mexican organized crime.
Now that most National Guard units have come home from Iraq, they can do what they signed up to do- homeland security. I urge President Obama to deploy guardsmen at the border to assist federal agents there, and for the anti-drug ads to get real about the hard substances that are REALLY destroying this nation. Until the American fancy for hard drugs and obsession with assault weapons changes, problems will continue along the border.