Some officials from both sides of the border say stricter gun laws in the U.S. can help curb violence in Mexico.
Having fewer firearms coming into Mexico will benefit everyone, including the United States, said Alfonso Novoa, chief of police in Agua Prieta, Sonora.
"More gun control will help us in every type of crime, from vehicle theft to homicides," he said. "Even our own cops get killed with these same weapons."
He said the city, which is among the safest along the border, takes a preventive approach by participating in gun buyback programs and rewarding schools for collecting toy firearms.
As many as 120,000 people have been violently killed since 2006 in Mexico, and about half of them were organized-style homicides that often involved the use of high-powered firearms imported illegally from the United States, according to a study from the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute and the Igarape Institute, a research center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Recent mass shootings in the United States have prompted lawmakers to take a look at gun laws.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would ban military-style firearms, restrict the size of ammunition clips and require universal background checks on gun sales.
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., co-sponsored a bill that would make firearms trafficking a federal crime and would impose stronger penalties for "straw purchasers," who buy guns for people who can't legally own them.
Tucson is considering a law mandating residents report within 48 hours any lost or stolen gun to the Tucson Police Department.
Charles Heller, host of Liberty Watch Radio, said he had several guns stolen and wouldn't be surprised if the guns ended up in Mexico.
It's a "flawed" notion to think gun laws in the United States will help curb the violence in Mexico, said Heller, co-founder of the Arizona Citizens Defense League, a gun-rights group.
"There's no reason you should punish the innocent for the acts of the guilty," he said.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, who supports more gun control and background checks, said, "It's very easy for the drug cartels to have access to (assault) weapons under current laws."
It's not known exactly how many firearms are smuggled into Mexico from the United States each year, but Nogales, Sonora, municipal President Ramon Guzman said it's a lot easier to purchase firearms in the United States than it is in Mexico.
The Mexican military estimates that less than 1 percent of firearms in Mexico are legally registered and 90 percent of firearms are used for criminal purposes.
The likelihood that many of the guns seized by Chief Novoa's officers come from the United States is very high, he said, due to the city's proximity to the United States.
About 87 percent of firearms seized by Mexican authorities and traced in the last five years originated in the United States, a Government Accountability Office report found in 2009.
Many of the firearms come from gun shops and shows in Southwest border states.
"More gun control will help us in every type of crime, from vehicle theft to homicides. Even our own cops get killed with these same weapons."
Alfonso Novoa, chief of police in Agua Prieta, Sonora
Copyright 2013 - The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
McClatchy-Tribune News Service