Violence along the U.S.-Mexico border continues to spiral upward, with all-too-frequent reports of bullet-ridden bodies turning up on street corners, in parks, on deserted highways, even at quinceaneras.
A complex combination of drugs, corruption and poverty may be behind the bloodletting. But the source of the weapons used to kill is easily identified: The U.S. accounts for an estimated 85% of guns seized by Mexican authorities, according to a 2009 Government Accountability Office report.
For years, U.S. officials have been promising to clamp down on gun-runners who supply drug cartels and human smugglers. Now, the Obama administration has the opportunity to make good on that pledge, by granting a request by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to track bulk sales of semiautomatic long guns. The new rule would require the 8,500 licensed gun shops in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas to report to the agency any sale of two or more rifles of greater than .22 caliber to the same person over five days.
It's a sensible and, if anything, too-modest plan that could provide valuable tips to ATF agents and help reduce violence on both sides of the border. President Obama should not only approve it, he should expand it to apply to all gun sellers nationwide. Limiting the rule to the four border states will only push the illicit trade into the nearest state where smugglers can load up on AK-47-style assault weapons.