During his first visit to Mexico, President Obama pledged to do more to keep U.S. guns out of the hands of murderous drug cartels. One promise: to seek approval of a long-stalled treaty against illegal weapons sales.
“I am urging the Senate in the United States to ratify an inter-American treaty known as CIFTA, to curb small-arms trafficking that is a source of so many of the weapons used in this drug war,” the president said at the April 2009 news conference.
To the Mexicans, that might have seemed an easy lift. The U.S. government already complies with the treaty’s provisions. No U.S. laws would have to change, officials say. And some phrases in the treaty had been proposed by the National Rifle Association.
But the symbolically important treaty has gone nowhere, offering a lesson in the political sensitivities of taking even modest legal steps to crack down on gun-smuggling to Mexico. While the Obama administration has taken other actions, such as sending anti-trafficking teams to the border, neither the White House nor Congress has pushed the treaty, which the gun lobby opposes.