02/14/2013 03:30 pm ET

Wayne LaPierre: NRA Members Need Guns To Fight Mexican Drug Cartels

Wayne LaPierre says Americans need guns to combat Mexican drug gangs.

The National Rifle Association spokesman pointed to Latin American drug gangs as a major self-defense issue and implied that U.S. gunowners need semi-automatic weapons to confront it in an opinion piece for the conservative Daily Caller on Wednesday.

Without citing any sources, LaPierre writes:

Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States. Phoenix is already one of the kidnapping capitals of the world, and though the states on the U.S./Mexico border may be the first places in the nation to suffer from cartel violence, by no means are they the last.

But statistics don’t match LaPierre’s characterization of the U.S.-Mexico border as a violent free-for-all in which people must carry guns to guarantee their safety.

Crime statistics reported in USA Today and the Huffington Post show that violent crime has actually dropped in recent years along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, as well as in the border states of California, New Mexico and Texas. The border cities of El Paso and San Diego, in fact, are ranked as the two safest large cities in the United States, according to Congressional Quarterly.

And Phoenix actually isn’t the kidnapping capital of the world. An investigative report by ABC News 15 and a federal audit both concluded last year that local authorities miscategorized almost half of crimes designated as kidnappings. Overcounting helped police land millions of dollars in grants.

LaPierre’s statements on Mexico and the border echoed those of immigration hardliners like Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who routinely say the U.S.-Mexico border is violent and requires more emphasis on enforcement, despite evidence to the contrary.

Chris Sabatini, Policy Director for the Americas Society, said last year he doesn’t expect drug violence in Mexico to spill over into the United States.

“That’s sort of the bottleneck,” Sabatini told the New York Daily News. “Once it’s across the border, the drugs are being distributed.”

The U.S. government currently relies on military and police forces to combat drug cartels, rather than individual armed civilians.

LaPierre said U.S. police forces aren't enough to protect people from threats including drug cartels and terrorists and urged Americans to “buy more guns than ever.”

Only 18 percent of Latinos own guns, making them less likely than both blacks and non-Hispanic whites to own a firearm, according to an analysis of Gallup surveys released this year.

The United States averages 87 gun deaths per day and 183-gun-related injuries, according to data from the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Centers for Disease Control. In addition to lives lost, the violence costs the country $100 billion annually, according to the Crime Lab.



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