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Dispatches from the Border Wall: McAllen



McAllen — This McAllen gun store isn’t subtle in its marketing. A few months ago these red and black billboards popped up all over the Rio Grande Valley. The gun shop called Resilient Defense Systems sells fully automatic assault rifles and machine guns.

Times are good for gun merchants on the U.S. side of the border. There’s a drug war spiraling out of control just a few miles away in Mexico. There’s also the ever-present paranoia that President Obama might ban assault rifles spurring gun advocates to stock up. Sales are up this year by 50 percent, according to the store’s owner.

Luis Morales, the owner of RSD, says his booming sales are due to an uptick in local crime.

“There’s been an increase in home invasions and crime,” he told the local TV channel, News 4. “What people are doing is you know buying guns to defend themselves or property in their homes.”

The City of McAllen’s crime statistics show that crime is down, however. According to the data the city’s police department provided to the FBI, McAllen’s crime rate decreased by 1.15 percent in 2009. The 2010 crime data won’t be reported until the end of the year, but I suspect it’ll be about the same. A recent story in the McAllen Monitor reported that so far the 2010 homicide rate is on track to be lower than 2009.

Of course, gun stores like Resilient Defense Systems have to keep a registry of all the people who buy their guns. Where those guns go after they leave their stores, however, is anybody’s guess. The Mexican government has a pretty good idea. The ATF reported recently that a massive cache of weapons found in Reynosa just across the border had been traced back to Texas gun retailers. It’s an age-old story. One hundred years ago, McAllen and other Texas border cities provided the guns and ammo for the Mexican Revolution. Times haven’t changed much.

Melissa del Bosque is a staff writer and a 2015-16 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.

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Published at 6:04 pm CST