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Let's build Trump's border wall out of melted guns

A variety of military-style semi-automatic rifles obtained during a buy-back program are displayed at Los Angeles police headquarters.
A variety of military-style semi-automatic rifles obtained during a buy-back program are displayed at Los Angeles police headquarters. (Damian Dovarganes / AP)

I’ve figured out just what America needs: A wall along the U.S.-Mexico border made entirely of melted guns.

Trust me, this makes perfect sense and will solve a multitude of problems here and in Mexico, all while making President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association happy and pleasing those of us who think America should be home to fewer guns.

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Those who know me as a clear-minded and nationally respected thought leader are probably already satisfied with the reasonableness of that idea, but for others, I’ll explain.

The country is now wrestling with two seemingly disparate issues: What to do about guns in the wake of the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Fla.; and what to do about the border wall that Trump promised his supporters.

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On that latter matter, the Washington Post reported over the weekend that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Trump called off a meeting at the White House because Trump refused to stop talking about Mexico paying for the border wall. Pena Nieto has said repeatedly that his country will not fund Trump’s wall.

So that’s an impasse. And on the guns front, the broader public desire for sensible gun reform is being met with strong resistance from the NRA and the various politicians whose souls the group has purchased.

Trump and the NRA want to arm more people, like teachers. Those of us who don’t believe more guns will lead to greater safety want to make it considerably harder for people to purchase guns or, if at all possible, pull all the guns in America up into the air using a giant magnet and then drop them in the ocean. (We can tackle the threat of an armed fish uprising at a later date.)

So at the moment, when it comes to guns or border walls, nobody’s happy.

Which is where my crowd-pleasing idea comes in. Try to follow along:

Trump wants a wall. Most Americans don’t want one. But a wall made entirely of steel from melted guns? That’s going to have some crossover appeal.

To get the material, we’ll have to round up all the handguns and assault rifles. That’s going to make some people mad, I know, but since many think they need guns to protect themselves from marauding hordes of illegal immigrants, they should be thrilled that they’ll get a wall made of sturdy, horde-repelling gun steel.

(Hunters will be given special compensation, as will anyone who can show they are part of a well-regulated militia.)

Now you’d think the NRA would be mad about this plan, but the organization’s power stems wholly from its ability to keep gun owners in a constant state of paranoia, fearful that at any moment the government will come and take away their guns. If the government actually does come and take away their guns, donations to the NRA will skyrocket and the group will have enough fear-inducing material to keep it busy for generations.

Also, since the NRA is really just a lobbying group for the gun industry, its officials will be thrilled to know that the more than 300 million guns owned in this country won’t be nearly enough for a decent wall. The border is about 1,900 miles, which is about 120 million inches. If every gun in America was an AR-15 — which is about 40 inches long — you’d basically have a wall that’s just a single layer of assault rifles, not enough to hinder a Mexican mouse.

So the gun industry will be booming thanks to the Trump administration purchasing the hundreds of millions of additional guns needed to complete the wall.

And what about Mexico? People there will be thrilled. The Mexican government might even chip in some money to help build the thing, thus allowing Trump to keep part of his campaign promise.

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To understand why, consider this, from a Los Angeles Times story last year:

“Most of the weapons used by criminal groups in Mexico originate in the United States. Each year, an average of 253,000 firearms cross the border, the overwhelming majority of which come from the Southwest states of California, Texas and Arizona. From 2009 to 2014, more than 70 percent of firearms — nearly 74,000 — seized by Mexican authorities and then submitted for tracing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms came from the United States. Many of these guns were semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 and AK-47, cartel favorites that Mexican citizens cannot buy legally.”

Mexico has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. But it doesn’t matter because America is a bad neighbor that will sell guns to just about anyone. That dynamic is a bit like what we deal with in Chicago, which has gun laws tougher than many states (not the toughest in the country, as is often claimed) but deals with a steady influx of guns from neighboring states with lax gun laws.

Trump’s Magnificent Gun Wall would stop the flow of guns into Mexico, since all the U.S. guns would be getting scooped up and melted down to make the wall. That would make Mexico safer, and probably even cut back on the number of people in Mexico who want to flee to the United States because Mexican cities are plagued by criminals firing guns that were purchased in America.

It’s all quite perfect. Trump gets his wall. Mexico becomes safer. America becomes safer.

Those who want fewer guns get their wish. The NRA can scare the tuna salad out of its members for the rest of eternity. And the people who loved their guns but had to give them up in service of the wall can still visit them from time to time along the border.

It’s a win-win-win-win-win situation. And it’s at least as reasonable as making schools safe by arming teachers or thinking Mexico will ever pay for a wall that’s not made of guns.

rhuppke@chicagotribune.com

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