As the number of violent deaths along the U.S.-
The report by the Violence Policy Center advocacy group, titled "The militarization of the U.S. civilian firearms market," says that the civilian firearms industry in
While the U.S. population grew by 24 percent in the two decades ending in 2000, the U.S. production of small weapons fell by 33 percent, it says.
So what has been the gun industry's response? Try to sell bigger, more-lethal weapons, many of which are used in mass shootings, attacks on U.S. law enforcement officers, or are sold to the Mexican and Central American drug cartels.
"The U.S. civilian gun market has become a militarized bazaar," it says. In order to increase revenues, U.S. gun manufacturers are bombarding consumers with ads portraying the message that civilians -- just like real soldiers -- can easily own military-style weapons, it says.
For instance, faced with a 1986 law that bans the sale of machine guns to civilians, the gun industry has in recent years promoted sales of semiautomatic assault weapons that are similar to AK-47 and M-16 military assault rifles.
Unlike machine guns, semiautomatic weapons require that their trigger be pulled back separately for each bullet. But gun manufacturers are increasingly adding new features to their semiautomatic weapons -- such as detachable ammunition magazines that hold as many as 75 rounds of ammunition -- that turn their products into formidable killing machines.
"The difference between semiautomatic rifles and machine guns is negligible," the study's author,
Now that the violence along the U.S.-
I called the
Other pro-gun activists told me that semiautomatic weapons are used for sports, and that only a small percentage of violent deaths in
My opinion: With more than 40,000 deaths in drug-related shootings in
The Obama administration should seek congressional ratification of a 1997 regional treaty known as CIFTA, which tries to crack down on illicit firearms trafficking in the Americas. President
And Latin American countries should step up diplomatic pressure on
How many more people have to die in mass shootings across the hemisphere before we put an end to this madness?
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(C) 2011 Andres Oppenheimer, The Miami Herald Distributed by Tribune Media Services