Mexico’s leading gang violence campaigner Javier Sicilia presented a 54,000 signature petition called for greater gun control to the United States embassy on Monday.
Mexico suffers from some of the worst gang violence in the world – some 70,000 people have died in drug related violence since 2006, and most of the weapons used by Mexican gangs are smuggled over the border from the United States.
“The United States is partly responsible for our humanitarian tragedy,” after presenting the petition.
President Obama announced on Monday that the details of proposed gun control measures would be presented within days. The US government has been under pressure to introduce tougher gun control measures following a string of high profile shootings, including the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school.
The measures are likely to include compulsory registration and will target heavy weapons such as semi-automatics. These military grade guns, which are widely available in the United States, are popular amongst members of Mexico’s drug gangs.
Gun control, however, is a vexed issue in America. The second amendment of the country’s constitution protects citizen’s rights to own firearms, and the ownership of guns is tangled up with national identity and pride for many people. Some right wing commentators, such as Alex Jones, have even warned of a new American civil war if the government tries to take away their weapons. Although this is clearly unlikely, it is almost certain that any substantial new measures would face a major backlash from the powerful gun lobby and right wing political groups.