Brownsville mayor joins coalition to combat illegal firearms
April 15, 2011 5:58 PM
By Jacqueline Armendariz
The Brownsville Herald
BROWNSVILLE -- Prompted by the increasing violence in Mexico, Mayor
Pat M. Ahumada Jr. recently joined a nationwide coalition that
targets illegal firearms.
Other members of the group, called Mayors Against Illegal Guns,
include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Los Angeles Mayor
Ahumada is one of just two Texas mayors who are members.
He said the violence in Mexico clearly is a public safety matter for
citizens on both sides of the border.
"I believe in the Second Amendment. I am a licensed concealed-weapon
carrier. But we must stop the flow of illegal guns into Mexico," he
said. "I feel like we're not doing enough. We need to do more."
This month, Mexican authorities unearthed mass graves that held more
than 150 dead bodies in San Fernando, a city about 80 miles south of
"We have a Bosnia just south of the border, and we should feel some
kind of responsibility because we create the demand for the drugs and
we supply the criminal element with the ammunition for firepower,"
Ahumada said of the ongoing drug cartel war. "Mexico doesn't allow
gun sales, so they're coming from all over the world, but a lot of it
comes through here."
Texas has the dubious distinction of providing more guns used in
Mexican crimes – 40 percent in 2009 – than any other state, according
to a Mayors Against Illegal Guns report based on data from the U.S.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The same report found that since 2006, 90 percent of the guns used in
Mexican crimes that were submitted to the ATF for tracing originated
from gun dealers in the United States.
Ahumada said he supports efforts that fight gun trafficking, such as
mandatory reporting laws for stolen or resold guns, and efforts that
make it more difficult for criminals to illegally possess firearms.
Ahumada, who is running for re-election against four others in May,
joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns Jan. 24, according to director
Mark Glaze. The coalition includes more than 590 mayors across the
country, ranging from large metropolitan cities to small towns, he said.
One of the coalition's main targets is firearms legislation,
prompting the group's critics to call it a "gun control advocacy" group.
Glaze disputes that characterization.
"The coalition is a group of Republicans, Democrats and Independents
who focus on a narrow range of issues that are not about gun
control," he said. "They are about crime control."
In 2009, then-Houston Mayor Bill White announced through his election
campaign that he had resigned from Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Citied as a reason was the group's fight against a proposal that
would allow licensed concealed-weapon carriers to carry their
firearms into other states.
Ahumada dismissed those criticisms.
"I never worry about those things," he said. "If you look at my
actions, my leadership, I always try to do what's right. Maybe I'm
the lone wolf there, but I think people usually end up joining, or
seeing it my way, as far as it's the right thing to do."
As mayor of Brownsville, he said, he feels it is his moral duty and
his job to support efforts that help protect citizens.
"It takes courage to stand up and say, 'OK, maybe for Odessa, it's
not an issue, but for us here, it is an issue,'" he said.
The mayor said the facts about the flow of illegal gun trafficking
from the United States to Mexico are proven.
"We know that's happening and you can't ignore that," he said. "Those
who criticize want to ignore that. Well, that suits them and that's
fine. I cannot ignore that. That's the reality."