Partial transcript of a press conference today with Mexican Sec. of Foreign Affairs:
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) -- from the magazine Power and Business.
(In English) – What is being done about weapons like the Barrett 50, which were – these weapons were banned in the United States until 2004 when President Bush declined to renew that ban, which was going on for ten years. My question to Secretary Rice is: Have you made President Bush aware of the direct connection between the expiration of the assault weapons ban and the proliferation of these powerful weapons in Mexico? And have you ever suggested to him that it was a bad idea not to renew the ban?
SECRETARY RICE: You know, it’s very interesting. I follow arms trafficking across the world, and I’ve never known illegal arms traffickers who cared very much about the law. And so I simply don’t accept the notion that the lifting of the ban somehow has led arms traffickers to increase their activities. Arms traffickers, by their very nature, don’t care about the law. And so whatever laws are in place, their business is to get around it.
And I’ll tell you, I know a lot about this area because it’s not just in the region, but it’s worldwide that this is the case. That is why the way to deal with the kinds of arms that are being trafficked by people who are doing it illegally, literally against the law, is to work through intelligence, to work through our law enforcement people, but also to make sure that we have sharing of intelligence across the border.
I would just note that we had a very good presentation by our bureau of ATF, arms trafficking and alcohol and arms trafficking control. And it was about our concerns about the increasing capability to acquire some of these weapons that are indeed very serious. But I think it would be a mistake to assume that arms traffickers care very much about what laws the United States has in place.
QUESTION: So you don’t see this connection?
SECRETARY RICE: Actually, you know, I haven’t done – since I’ve not done – I’m a social scientist. And since I haven’t done a formal study of the variable that you mention and the outcomes that you mention, I’m not going to comment. But I will tell you I’ve never known an illegal arms trafficker who cared very much what the laws were.