IF GUNS ARE OUTLAWED, ONLY OUTLAWS WILL HAVE GUNS
I thought the bumper sticker above was only a clever statement when I first saw it several years ago. Then my wife, Helen, and I started spending time in Mexico as missionaries. The places we worked were not the tourist resorts. We were spending our time with people who live in the shanty towns you see circling all the cities in that country.
On our trips south of the border, the Mexican army became more and more evident at the border crossing in Reynosa. They began searching our luggage every time we crossed the International Bridge. When I asked what they were looking for, the answer was always “weapons.”
Approaching this international border there are large signs warning people who are crossing the border, Possession of Guns is prohibited in Mexico. There were others warning signs, It is a Crime to Transport Guns into Mexico. It is nearly impossible to not see these large signs before you leave the United States.
Our assumption when we were in Mexico was that the only people with guns were the police and army. We did hear stories of shoot outs between drug gangs and the army, but these were along the border. Fear for our safety was not an issue.
This all changed in July of 2010. We were in the city of Ciudad Valles in the state of San Luis Potosi helping with the vacation Bible school at the mission. The plan was for us to finish out the week at the mission before traveling over to Tampico on the Gulf Coast to visit with friends. From Tampico, we would head back north to the United States. This was the seventh summer we had helped with the Bible school. The weather in the summer of 2010 had been unusually wet. Every day the rains were pouring down making the roads impassable that we took to the mission on the edge of the city.
Wednesday night, Helen woke me to announce that she couldn’t sleep. She felt very uneasy about our situation, and wasn’t sure why. “We need to get back to the border,” she kept saying. Agreeing with her was the only way I would get any sleep. Our mission business could be wrapped up the next day. We would catch a Thursday night bus to Reynosa forgoing our visit with friends in Tampico.
The sun was coming up Friday morning when we crossed the Rio Grande River Bridge and were back in the States. As we rode in a taxi from the U. S. side of the bridge up to where we had parked our car in McAllen, Texas, I noticed the driver had laid a Mexican morning newspaper on the seat between us. The headline was about seven bodies being found dumped Thursday afternoon on the highway we had traveled that very night.
Saturday morning we received news that Friday evening there had been a huge gun battle on the street in front of the hotel where Helen had had her restless night. People walking on the street had been shot. From that time on, the top has blown off the violence. The Mexican people are now living in constant fear.
The drug cartel battles that are occasionally reported in our news media are not the only violence that has fueled this reign of terror. Crimes of kidnapping, extortion, and robbery are a daily occurrence. Friends have written to tell us that no matter how bad the violence and terrorism in Mexico sounds in our media, it is worse.
Mexico has strict gun control laws. That country is an example of the truth of the bumper sticker. People cannot legally possess fire arms. Yet we hear of gruesome mass killings that go far beyond the tragic, senseless killing of dear children and educators in Newtown, Connecticut.
If gun control was the way to stop violence and murders, Mexico would be the safest place on this continent. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the answer to the disturbing events of the past several months. When the law abiding populace can not possess fire arms to protect themselves, they become victims to those who could care less about the law.
The bumper sticker, IF GUNS ARE OUTLAWED, ONLY OUTLAWS WILL HAVE GUNS, is not just a cute saying; it is true.