U.S. President Barack Obama (R) pauses as Vice President Joseph Biden (L) looks on during an announcement on gun reform in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House December 19, 2012 in Washington, D.C.
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) pauses as Vice President Joseph Biden (L) looks on during an announcement on gun reform in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House December 19, 2012 in Washington, D.C. - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

The touchy debate over gun control is moving forward after President Obama said he would bring the issue before Congress in January, and whatever policymakers decide -- if anything -- could affect Mexican drug violence.

University of Massachusetts economist Arin Dube says the expiration of the U.S. assault weapons ban in 2004 put more powerful weapons into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

“Within months of this change in policy we saw an uptick exactly where we would expect,” said Dube, who co-wrote a paper on border violence this year.

That uptick happened in Mexican towns near border states like Arizona and Texas. But the violence was not as prevalent near California where strict gun laws are still on the books, Dube said. Even before this week’s debate, gun advocates dismissed the role of U.S. gun policy in Mexico.

And Alejandro Hope, with the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness in Mexico City, said violence near the border has many sources.

“It has to do with the shape and structure of drug markets. It has to do with Mexican government policy,” Hope said.

He added the flow of guns to Mexico won’t do much to reduce the demand that drug cartels have for them.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.