Mexico urges tighter US gun control after deadly El Paso shooting

Eight Mexicans were killed in the gun attack in Texas, an act the Mexican government has called an 'act of terrorism'.

    Members of the Soto family embrace beside a makeshift memorial after the shooting that left 22 people dead at the Cielo Vista Mall WalMart in El Paso [Mark Ralston/ AFP]
    Members of the Soto family embrace beside a makeshift memorial after the shooting that left 22 people dead at the Cielo Vista Mall WalMart in El Paso [Mark Ralston/ AFP]

    Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has urged the United States to "control the indiscriminate sale of weapons" after a mass shooting that killed 22 people, including eight Mexicans in the southern state of Texas. 

    The appeal on Monday came after authorities in the US said the gun assault in the border city of El Paso appeared to be a hate crime. Dozens were wounded in the attack.

    "We are very respectful of what other governments decide, but we think that these unfortunate events, which occurred in the US, should lead to reflection, analysis and the decision to control the indiscriminate sale of weapons," Lopez Obrador said at a news conference in Mexico City on Monday.

    He also said his government was studying the possibility of accusing the suspected shooter, identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, of "terrorism" and requesting his extradition to face charges in Mexico.

    Investigators believe the shooter uploaded a rambling screed online shortly before targeting a busy shopping area, railing against a perceived "invasion" of Latin Americans coming into the US.

    Hours after the shooting in El Paso, another gunman in Dayton, Ohio, killed nine people in a gun attack. Police said there was no indication it was racially motivated. 

    Lopez Obrador said neither Republicans nor Democrats in the US have done enough to protect people from mass shootings. 

    "If we look at things objectively, we have to say that the two main US parties have given little attention to gun control," he said.

    Extradition

    As the news dominated weekend headlines, some in Mexico said the shooting in El Paso was the result of the simmering resentment that Trump had stirred early into his presidential campaign when he called Mexicans coming into the US "rapists" and "criminals". 

    The US-Mexico relationship has come under further strain since Trump took office.

    He has vowed to build a border wall and threatened to slap tarriffs on Mexican imports unless Lopez Obrador's government did more to halt record flows of migrants to the US. 

    El Paso is a US city of 680,000 people, some 83 percent of whom are Hispanic, and it borders Mexico's Ciudad Juarez. Tens of thousands of Mexicans legally cross the border each day to work and shop in the city.

    Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard met with the families of the Mexican victims on Monday. 

    He named the victims as Sara Esther Regalado, Adolfo Cerros Hernandez, Jorge Calvillo Garcia, Elsa Mendoza de la Mora, Gloria Irma Marquez Juarez, Maria Eugenia Legarreta Rothe, Ivan Filiberto Manzano and Juan de Dios Velazquez Chairez.

    Calling the attack "an act of terrorism" against Mexicans, Ebrard said his government would take legal action against the business that sold the shooter the gun. 

    "For Mexico, this individual is a terrorist," he said.

    Analysts in Mexico said they do not expect the US to extradite the suspected shooter, describing Mexico's bid as a diplomatic attempt to highlight the severity of the situation. 

    "The Mexican government does not want this incident to go as another shooting in the US," said Javier Buenrostro, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. 

    "They want to make clear that this is not an isolated situation that was executed by a person that was mentally ill, but it's instead a consequence of the xenophobic speech that President Trump has taken towards immigrants in the US," he told Al Jazeera.

    "It's overall a rejection and a request for the Trump administration to moderate his speech and to regulate the existing gun laws in the US," he added. 

    Trump, in an address to the nation on Monday, blamed "hatred", mental illness, and violence in video games and social media for the attacks. He also condemned "racism, bigotry and white supremacy", and ordered law enforcement agencies to "disrupt hate crimes and domestic terrorism". 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies