Second Amendment: House
Blocks Record-Keeping Regulation
Violence in Mexico by drug
gangs with guns is all the fault of the United States. That
seems to be the attitude of those at the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) who proposed a
regulation forcing gun sellers in states bordering Mexico to
report within five business days the multiple sales of
certain semi-automatic weapons. As part of the backlash
against an overly restrictive government, however, the House
recently passed an amendment, authored by Reps. Dan Boren
(D-OK) and Denny Rehberg (R-MT) to the 2011 fiscal year
continuing budgetary resolution (H.R. 1) stripping funding
for BATFE to enforce the restriction.
On another front cherished
by gun-grabbers, a bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR)
to restore gun rights granted to District of Columbia
residents by the Supreme Court's Heller decision (and
rescinded by the District's City Council) is awaiting
consideration -- that bill is H.R. 645.
In their haste to enact
more regulation, BATFE seems to have forgotten that existing
law already allows the federal government to examine records
at gun shops as a matter of course. Moreover, the proposal
ignores the fact that Mexican drug cartels routinely
purchase weapons on the black market. No law we enact will
stop that, just as the gun restrictions piled on by the
District of Columbia's City Council haven't stopped gun
crime in DC. But facts can't get in the way of circumventing
the Second Amendment, can they?
The Patriot Post
Pentagon Fingered as a Source
of Narco-Firepower in Mexico
Bill Conroy - February 12,
2011 at 8:44 pm
The Big Clubs in Mexico’s Drug
War Aren’t Slipping Through
the Gun-Show Loophole
Another series of leaked
State Department cables made
public this week by
WikiLeaks lend credence
to investigative reports on
gun trafficking and the drug
war published by Narco News
as far back as 2009.
big battles in the drug war
in Mexico are “not being
fought with Saturday night
specials, hobby rifles and
Narco News reported in
March 2009, against the
grain, at a time when the
mainstream media was pushing
a narrative that assigned
the blame for the rising
tide of weapons flowing into
Mexico to U.S. gun stores
and gun shows.
Rather, we reported at the
time, “the drug trafficking
organizations are now in
possession of high-powered
munitions in vast quantities
that can’t be explained by
the gun-show loophole.”
Those weapons, found in
stashes seized by Mexican
law enforcers and military
over the past several years,
include U.S.-military issued
rifles, machine guns,
grenade launchers and
State Department cables
released recently by
WikiLeaks support Narco
News’ reporting and also
confirm that our government
is very aware of the fact
that U.S military munitions
are finding their way into
Mexico, and into the hands
organizations, via a
multi-billion dollar stream
of private-sector and
Pentagon arms exports.
Narco News, in a report in
December 2008 [“Juarez
murders shine a light on an
emerging Military Cartel”]
examined the increasing
militarization of narco-trafficking
groups in Mexico and pointed
out that U.S.
popped up in an arms cache
seized in Reynosa, Mexico,
in November 2008 that was
linked to the Zetas, a
mercenary group that
services to Mexican narco-trafficking
Tosh Plumlee, a former CIA asset who still has deep connections in the covert world, told Narco News recently that a special-operations task force under Pentagon command, which has provided training to Mexican troops south of the border, has previously “… found [in Mexico] hundreds of [U.S.-made] M-67s [grenades] as well as thousands of rounds of machine gun-type ammo, .50 [and] .30 [caliber] and the famous [U.S.-made] M-16 — most later confirmed as being shipped from Guatemala into Mexico as well as from USA vendors. …”
Similarly, an AP video report from May 2009 confirms that “M16 machine guns” have been seized from Mexican criminal groups engaged in the drug war.
“It’s unclear how cartels are getting military grade weapons,” the AP report states.
Narco News offered an answer to that question in March 2009, when it reported that the deadliest of the weapons now in the hands of criminal groups in Mexico, particularly along the U.S. border, by any reasonable standard of an analysis of the facts, appear to be getting into that nation through perfectly legal private-sector arms exports, measured in the billions of dollars.
Those exports are approved through the State Department, under a program known as Direct Commercial Sales. A sister program, called Foreign Military Sales, is overseen by the Pentagon and also taps U.S. contractors to manufacture weapons (such as machine guns and grenades) for export to foreign entities, including companies and governments.
Between 2005 and 2009, a total of $41 billion worth of U.S. defense articles were exported under the FMS program and a total of nearly $60 billion via the DCS program, according to a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The bulk of those exports went to seven nations, including South Korea, but Mexico, too, was a receiving nation, with some $204 million in military arms shipments approved for export in fiscal year 2008 alone, according to the most recently available DCS report.
So, based on that evidence, it is clear that there is a grand river of military-grade munitions flowing out of major gun factories in the U.S. and being exported globally — completely bypassing the mom-and-pop gun store. That river of doom, however, does not bypass the drug war in Mexico.
The WikiLeaks Cables
Two separate diplomatic cables that came out of the U.S. consulate in Monterrey, Mexico, in early 2009 discuss drug war-related attacks on the U.S. consulate in that city as well as on a Monterrey TV station — with each incident involving the use of U.S. military grenades.
From a State Department cable created on Jan. 12, 2009, by the American Consul General in Monterrey and sent to the Secretary of State, U.S. Northcom and other U.S. consulates:
On January 6 the Televisa TV station in Monterrey was attacked by unknown assailants, who shot eight .40 caliber rounds into the station wall and threw a grenade over a fence into the parking lot, which exploded but did not injure anyone.
… The Consulate [in Monterrey] was attacked in a similar manner on October 11, 2008, and is located approximately one mile from the Televisa station.
… The investigators recovered the grenade fuse spoon, which appears to be from a US military M67 fragmentation grenade. ATF is investigating if any M67 grenades from this lot were exported to foreign militaries. The M67 grenade is different than the M26 grenade [an older U.S.-made grenade from the Vietnam era] used to attack the Consulate on October 11, but five M67 grenades were recovered during a raid several days after the Consulate attack in a Gulf Cartel warehouse. [Emphasis added.]
So the State Department cable makes clear that the attacks on the TV station and on the consulate itself involved military grade explosives made in the USA that somehow found their way to Mexico. A second cable issued in March 2009 lays out the plausible path those grenades followed on their journey to Mexico’s drug war.
From a cable issued by the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey on March 3, 2009, and sent to the Secretary of State, the FBI as well as various other consulates:
AmConsulate General Monterrey's ATF Office, the ATF Explosives Technology Branch, and AmEmbassy Mexico DAO have been working with Mexican law enforcement authorities to identify the origin of various grenades and other explosive devices recovered locally over the past few months, including the unexploded M26A2 fragmentation grenade hurled at the Consulate itself during the October 11, 2008 attack. Other ordnance recovered includes 21 grenades recovered by Mexican law enforcement on October 16, 2008 after a raid at a narco-warehouse in Guadalupe (a working class suburb of Monterrey), and twenty-five 40mm explosive projectiles, a U.S. M203 40mm grenade launcher, and three South Korean K400 fragmentation grenades recovered the same day in an abandoned armored vehicle that suspected narco-traffickers used to escape apprehension.
Local Mexican law enforcement has recovered a Grenade spoon and pull ring from an exploded hand grenade used in a January 6, 2009 attack on Televisa Monterrey, a Monterrey television station. Based upon ATF examination, it appears that the grenade used in the attack on the Consulate has the same lot number, and is of similar design and style, as the three of the grenades found at the narco-warehouse in Guadalupe. On January 7, 2009, the Mexican Army recovered 14 [U.S.-made] M-67 fragmentation grenades and 1 K400 fragmentation grenade in Durango City, Durango. ....
The lot numbers of some of the grenades recovered, including the grenade used in the attack on Televisa, indicate that previously ordnance with these same lot numbers may have been sold by the USG [U.S. Government] to the El Salvadoran military in the early 1990s via the Foreign Military Sales program. We would like to thank AmEmbassy San Salvador for its ongoing efforts to query the Government of El Salvador as whether any of its stocks of grenades and other munitions have been diverted or are otherwise unaccounted for. [Emphasis added.]
Again, this is the U.S. state Department confirming that it suspects U.S. military munitions sold in the 1990s to a foreign military were subsequently diverted to Mexican narco-traffickers.
Narco News sources indicate that it is likely some of the U.S. military weapons now being used by Mexican narco-trafficking groups may be from a past era, but they also contend it is likely a number of those weapons, such as the guns, have been rebuilt for the current drug war.
Former CIA asset Plumlee told Narco News:
There was some talk among [U.S.] task force members about a ... gun-making operation ongoing in or around Oaxaca, Mexico, more like a “refurbish” type operation from old stored weapons from the old Contra days (1980-‘90 era). [There’s] a lot of those weapons still around Panama and El Salvador. I was told most of those old weapons were “burned out" and of not much value. However, if there was a supplier or someone who could retrofit these weapons [they] could be fixed and moved just about anywhere....
And as food for thought on that front, a former U.S. Customs Inspector, who asked that his name not be used, brought to Narco News’ attention a federal criminal case now pending in U.S. court in Nashville.
In that case, five top officials with a gun manufacturer called Sabre Defence Industries LLC stand accused of illegally trafficking gun parts, such as gun barrels and components, on an international scale. Sabre, now shut down in the wake of its run-in with the feds, made and marketed assault rifles and machine-gun components for military, law enforcement and civilian use worldwide.
In fact, its biggest client was the U.S. military, which had awarded it contracts worth up to $120 million “for the manufacture of, among other things, M16 rifles and .50 caliber machine gun barrels,” according to the indictment returned in mid-January of this year against the company and its officers.
“The indictment unsealed today alleges a nearly decade-long scheme to thwart U.S. import/export restrictions on firearms and their components,” said Lanny A. Breuer, an assistant attorney general with the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, in a press statement released on Feb. 8. “The defendants allegedly went to great lengths to conceal their activities and evade U.S. laws – mislabeling packages, falsifying shipping records, and maintaining a fictitious set of books and records, among other things. The illegal trade of firearms and their components poses serious risks and, as this case shows, we cannot and will not tolerate it.”
Federal authorities have not released any details on where the Sabre-made gun parts ended up, though the indictment alleges many of the parts were shipped overseas.
As a note of caution, however, the former Customs inspector points out that once a criminal group has a supply of parts, setting up a gun-making operation is not a complicated matter.
“For the small arms, and I would include, for simplicity, everything up to and including M2 .50 BMG machine guns, and even the 40 mm grenade launcher, M19, you can put them together on the kitchen table, or on the workbench in the garage,” the former inspector says.
For now, though, it simply is not known whether any of Sabre’s weapons parts ended up in gun-making chop shops south of the U.S. border, or elsewhere, or whether any of the M16s it made for the U.S. military were later provided to the Mexican government — via the FMS or DCS programs — and subsequently diverted by corrupt officials to narco-trafficking groups.
But the State Department cables recently made public by WikiLeaks do seem to confirm that the U.S. government is very aware that much of the heavy firepower now in the hands of Mexican criminal organizations isn’t linked to mom-and-pop gun stores, but rather the result of blowback from U.S. arms-trading policies (both current and dating back to the Iran/Contra era) that put billions of dollars of deadly munitions into global trade stream annually.
As the death toll mounts in the drug war now raging in Mexico, it pays to remember that weapons trafficking, both government-sponsored and illegal, is a big business that feeds and profits off that carnage. Bellicose government policies, such as the U.S.-sponsored Merida Initiative, that are premised on further militarizing the effort to impose prohibition on civil society only serve to expand the profit margin on the bloodshed.
Industry Responds to
Mexican President's Calls for the U.S. to
Reinstitute its Ban on Modern Sporting Rifles
NEWTOWN, Conn -- Following calls
by Mexican President Felipe Calderon that the United States re-institute a ban
on modern sporting rifles, or so-called "assault weapons," the National Shooting
Sports Foundation (NSSF) -- the trade association for America's firearms
industry -- issued the following statement:
"While we respect the work of
President Calderon to willingly take on his country's powerful drug cartels, we
are disappointed that he, in the name of security, would urge our Congress to
reinstitute a failed ban on so-called 'assault weapons.'
"Let's be clear, semi-automatic
rifles, demonized as so-called 'assault weapons,' are not machine guns but
modern sporting rifles that are used every day by law-abiding Americans for the
shooting sports, hunting and home protection. Since 2004, when the Clinton/Gore
'assault weapons' ban expired, modern sporting rifles have fast become one of
the most popular types of firearms for law-abiding Americans to purchase.
"Firearms that Congress would
label "assault weapons' are functionally no different than any other
semi-automatic civilian sporting firearm. They shoot only one shot per trigger
pull, no spray firing as some allege, and use the same ammunition as other guns
of the same caliber. What differentiates modern sporting rifles from other guns
is cosmetic; for example, the type of stock on the firearm.
"According to the Department of
Justice, so-called "assault weapons" are rarely used in crimes (less than 2
percent). Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has
established that banning firearms and ammunition have no effect on crime levels.
"Some 29,000 firearms were
recovered in Mexico in 2008, of which approximately 5,000 were traced to U.S.
sources. That means more than 80 percent of the firearms recovered in Mexico
were not traced to the United States. Furthermore, according to the ATF, those
firearms traced were originally sold at retail not recently, but on average 14
years earlier. This is completely inconsistent with any notion that a flood of
newly purchased firearms are being illegally smuggled over the border into
Mexico. And let's not forget, no retail firearms sale can be made in the U.S.
until after a criminal background check on the purchaser has been completed.
"In recent years as many as
150,000 Mexican soldiers, 17,000 last year alone, defected to go work for the
drug cartels - bringing their American-made service-issued firearms with them.
It has also been well documented that the drug cartels are illegally smuggling
fully automatic firearms, grenades and other weapons into Mexico from South and
Central America. Such items are not being purchased at retail firearms stores in
the United States.
"Even more, investigations and
regulatory compliance inspections by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives (ATF) into firearms trafficking along the Southwest border have
confirmed that firearms retailers are law-abiding businessmen and women who are
playing a key role in detecting and deterring illegal purchases of firearms. As
part of a Project Gun Runner Impact Team firearms trafficking operation, more
than 1100 firearms retailers were inspected by ATF. Of these inspections only
one retailer license was revoked. One.
"Members of the firearms
industry take seriously the criminal acquisition and misuse of their products.
This is why our industry supports the Southwest Border Violence Reduction Act of
2009, sponsored by Sen. Bingaman (D-NM) and Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), and will
continue to work cooperatively with law enforcement. For nearly a decade our
industry has partnered with the ATF in a national campaign called Don't Lie for
the Other Guy that makes the public aware that it is a serious crime to
illegally straw purchase a firearm. The program also helps ATF to educate
firearms retailers to be better able to detect and prevent illegal straw
purchases. It is our hope that Don't Lie will once again receive grant funding
from the Department of Justice – a move that would allow NSSF and ATF to further
expand this worthwhile program. For the last year, Don't Lie has been financed
entirely by members of the firearms industry.
"Again, we applaud President
Calderon for taking steps to stop the cartels when past Mexican administrations
paid only lip service and allowed rampant corruption to fester. Still, it is
wrong for anyone to blame the Second Amendment and America's firearms industry
for the problems Mexico is currently facing.
"Sacrificing the constitutional
rights of law-abiding Americans will not make Mexico safer – especially when the
sacrifice is rooted in unfounded allegations and hyperbole. President Calderon
would be doing both his country and ours a favor if instead of pushing for
already failed crime-control measures, he used his time in the United States to
call for proven methods to combat criminal acts, such as putting more cops on
the street and more prosecutors in the court rooms.".
The National Shooting Sports
Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to
promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961,
NSSF has a membership of more than 5,500 manufacturers, distributors, firearms
retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers. For more
information, log on to www.nssf.org.
- Prospects dim
for Mexican firearms treaty
- Drug violence
Stephen Dinan (Contact)
August 9, 2009
President Obama's call for the Senate to ratify a
hemispheric small-firearms treaty dominated his last
visit to Mexico, but in the four months since, both the
treaty pledge and the drug violence that prompted it
have dropped off the radar - a victim of Congress' full
schedule and gun politics.
That means on Sunday
Mr. Obama will go with an empty hand to Mexico, which
blames the U.S. for many of the weapons used by drug
cartels that have violently thwarted a crackdown by
And even though Mr.
Obama and his administration have accepted that blame,
prospects are dim for passage of the treaty, which calls
on countries to license gun manufacturers and try to
control illicit trafficking in firearms, ammunition and
The chief U.S.
negotiator for the 1997 treaty, known by its Spanish
acronym of CIFTA, says it was written specifically to
avoid forcing the U.S. to change its laws, and says it
does not give any other country a say over what is legal
or illegal in the U.S. - and that gun-rights groups were
even involved in writing parts of the treaty.
But the National Rifle
Association now claims CIFTA could hurt hunters and says
U.S. Second Amendment interests should not be controlled
by an international treaty. Key senators such as
Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat whose
gun-rights credentials may be crucial to his winning
re-election next year, was cool to Mr. Obama's call for
ratification in April, and a spokesman said nothing has
"We must work with
Mexico to curtail the violence and drug trafficking on
America's southern border, and must protect Americans'
Second Amendment rights," Mr. Reid said in April. "I
look forward to working with the president to ensure we
do both in a responsible way."
Treaties require a
two-thirds vote by the Senate to be ratified - probably
an impossible goal, given opposition from both sides of
Chris W. Cox, the
National Rifle Association's chief lobbyist, would not
give a tally, but said that "there are a number of both
Republicans and Democrats who share our concerns about
the potential for abuse should this treaty be ratified."
On his two-day trip,
Mr. Obama is expected to meet first with Mexican
President Felipe Calderon - both men will then meet with
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The White House
says that talking, even without having any tangible
"deliverables" to show for it, is important.
"We will see more of
these dialogues in the future and at a relatively
frequent pace," National Security Adviser James L.
Jones, a retired Marine general, told reporters in
previewing the trip. "From that, I think good things
PELOSI: 'WE WANT
REGISTRATION'; HOLDER: 2A WON'T 'STAND IN THE WAY'; SAF: 'GLOVES ARE OFF'
BELLEVUE, WA – Democrat
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on April 7 acknowledged that gun registration is
on her agenda, days after Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters in
Mexico that the Second Amendment would not “stand in the way” of
administration plans to crack down on alleged gun trafficking to Mexico.
“These are alarming remarks from Speaker Pelosi and Attorney General
Holder,” said Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb. “It appears
that the Obama administration and Capitol Hill anti-gunners have dropped all
pretences about their plans for gun owners’ rights, and it looks like the
gloves are coming off.”
Pelosi’s revelation came during an interview on ABC’s Good Morning, America.
While insisting that Congress “never denied” the gun rights of American
Citizens, Pelosi told Roberts, “We want them registered. We don’t want them
crossing state linesÂ…” Gottlieb noted that
citizens’ rights do not stop at state lines.
“But that doesn’t really matter,” he observed. “History has shown that
around the world, registration has always led to confiscation.”
In Mexico, according to the Wall Street Journal, Holder was asked if the
administration might encounter constitutional issues as it tries to crack
down on alleged gun trafficking. His response: “I don’t think our Second
Amendment will stand in the way of efforts we have begun and will expand
“These comments belie administration promises and Democrat rhetoric that
party leaders respect the rights of law-abiding Americans to own the firearm
of their choice,” Gottlieb said. “They imposed registration of semi-autos in
Pelosi’s California and it led to a ban, but it certainly didn’t disarm
criminals, like the convicted felon who killed four Oakland police officers
last month. We know from Holder that the Obama administration wants to renew
the nationwide ban on such firearms, but that won’t prevent crime, either.
“The administration and Congressional anti-gunners have declared war on gun
rights,” Gottlieb said. “The press seems deliberately blind to the
statements from Pelosi and Holder, who blame our gun rights for their
incompetence in dealing with crime. More than 90 million gun owners haven’t
hurt anybody, and they are tired of being treated like criminals.”
The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From
percent of the guns traced to the U.S. actually originated in the United
States, the percent traced to the U.S. is only about 17 percent of the total
number of guns reaching Mexico.
By William La
Jeunesse and Maxim Lott
FOXNews.com Thursday, April 02, 2009
You've heard this shocking "fact" before -- on TV and radio, in newspapers,
on the Internet and from the highest politicians in the land: 90 percent of
the weapons used to commit crimes in Mexico come from the United States.
-- Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton said it to reporters on a flight to Mexico City.
-- CBS newsman Bob
Schieffer referred to it while interviewing
-- California Sen. Dianne
Feinstein said at a Senate hearing: "It is unacceptable to have 90 percent
of the guns that are picked up in Mexico and used to shoot
judges, police officers and mayors ... come from
the United States."
-- William Hoover, assistant
director for field operations at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives, testified in the House of Representatives that "there is
more than enough evidence to indicate that over 90 percent of the firearms
that have either been recovered in, or interdicted in transport to Mexico,
originated from various sources within the United States."
There's just one problem with
the 90 percent "statistic" and it's a big one:
It's just not true.
In fact, it's not even close.
The fact is, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been
traced to the U.S.
What's true, an ATF spokeswoman
told FOXNews.com, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own
agency's assistant director, "is that over 90 percent of the
traced firearms originate from
But a large percentage of the
guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing,
because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the
"Not every weapon seized in
Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S.
effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the
U.S. market," Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.
A Look at
In 2007-2008, according to ATF
Special Agent William Newell, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the ATF for
tracing. Close to 6,000 were successfully traced -- and of those, 90 percent
-- 5,114 to be exact, according to testimony in Congress by William Hoover
-- were found to have come from the U.S.
But in those same two years,
according to the Mexican government, 29,000 guns were recovered at crime
In other words, 68 percent of
the guns that were recovered were never submitted for tracing. And when you
weed out the roughly 6,000 guns that could not be traced from the remaining
32 percent, it means 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico
could not be traced to the U.S.
So, if not from the U.S., where
do they come from? There are a variety of sources:
-- The Black Market. Mexico is
a virtual arms bazaar, with fragmentation grenades from South Korea, AK-47s
from China, and shoulder-fired rocket launchers from Spain, Israel and
former Soviet bloc manufacturers.
-- Russian crime organizations.
Interpol says Russian Mafia groups such as Poldolskaya
and Moscow-based Solntsevskaya are actively
trafficking drugs and arms in Mexico.
- South America. During the
late 1990s, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) established a
clandestine arms smuggling and drug trafficking partnership with the Tijuana
cartel, according to the Federal Research Division report from the Library
-- Asia. According to a 2006
Amnesty International Report, China has provided arms to countries in Asia,
Africa and Latin America. Chinese assault weapons and Korean explosives have
been recovered in Mexico.
-- The Mexican Army. More than
150,000 soldiers deserted in the last six years, according to Mexican
Congressman Robert Badillo. Many took their
weapons with them, including the standard issue M-16 assault rifle made in
-- Guatemala. U.S. intelligence
agencies say traffickers move immigrants, stolen cars, guns and drugs,
including most of America's cocaine, along the porous Mexican-Guatemalan
border. On March 27, La Hora, a Guatemalan
newspaper, reported that police seized 500 grenades and a load of AK-47s on
the border. Police say the cache was transported by a Mexican drug cartel
operating out of Ixcan, a border town.
Come From El Paso'
Ed Head, a firearms instructor
in Arizona who spent 24 years with the U.S. Border Patrol, recently
displayed an array of weapons considered "assault rifles" that are similar
to those recovered in Mexico, but are unavailable for sale in the U.S.
"These kinds of guns -- the
auto versions of these guns -- they are not coming from El Paso," he said.
"They are coming from other sources. They are brought in from Guatemala.
They are brought in from places like China. They are being diverted from the
military. But you don't get these guns from the U.S."
Some guns, he said, "are
legitimately shipped to the government of Mexico, by Colt, for example, in
the United States. They are approved by the U.S. government for use by the
Mexican military service. The guns end up in Mexico that way -- the fully
auto versions -- they are not smuggled in across the river."
Many of the fully automatic
weapons that have been seized in Mexico cannot be found in the U.S., but
they are not uncommon in the Third World.
The Mexican government said it
has seized 2,239 grenades in the last two years -- but those grenades and
the rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) are
unavailable in U.S. gun shops. The ones used in an attack on the U.S.
Consulate in Monterrey in October and a TV station in January were made in
South Korea. Almost 70 similar grenades were seized in February in the
bottom of a truck entering Mexico from Guatemala.
"Most of these weapons are
being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea, eluding U.S. and
Mexican monitors who are focused on the smuggling of semi-automatic and
conventional weapons purchased from dealers in the U.S. border states of
Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California," according to a report in the Los
So why would the Mexican drug
cartels, which last year grossed between $17 billion and $38 billion, bother
buying single-shot rifles, and force thousands of unknown "straw" buyers in
the U.S. through a government background check, when they can buy boatloads
of fully automatic M-16s and assault rifles from China, Israel or South
Alberto Islas, a security
consultant who advises the Mexican government, says the drug cartels are
using the Guatemalan border to move black market weapons. Some are left over
from the Central American wars the United States helped fight; others, like
the grenades and launchers, are South Korean, Israeli and Spanish. Some were
legally supplied to the Mexican government; others were sold by corrupt
military officers or officials.
The exaggeration of United
States "responsibility" for the lawlessness in Mexico extends even beyond
the "90-percent" falsehood -- and some Second Amendment activists believe
it's designed to promote more restrictive gun-control laws in the U.S.
In a remarkable claim,
Auturo Sarukhan, the
Mexican ambassador to the U.S., said Mexico seizes 2,000 guns a day from the
United States -- 730,000 a year. That's a far cry from the official
statistic from the Mexican attorney general's office, which says Mexico
seized 29,000 weapons in all of 2007 and 2008.
Chris Cox, spokesman for the
National Rifle Association, blames the media and anti-gun politicians in the
U.S. for misrepresenting where Mexican weapons come from.
"Reporter after politician
after news anchor just disregards the truth on this," Cox said. "The numbers
are intentionally used to weaken the Second Amendment."
"The predominant source of guns
in Mexico is Central and South America. You also have Russian, Chinese and
Israeli guns. It's estimated that over 100,000 soldiers deserted the army to
work for the drug cartels, and that ignores all the police. How many of them
took their weapons with them?"
But Tom Diaz, senior policy
analyst at the Violence Policy Center, called the "90 percent" issue a red
herring and said that it should not detract from the effort to stop gun
trafficking into Mexico.
"Let's do what we can with what
we know," he said. "We know that one hell of a lot of firearms come from the
United States because our gun market is wide open."
Clinton targets assault weapons
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
is pledging further effort to help Mexico in its anti-drugs campaign.
Mrs Clinton said the use of military-style assault
weapons was a particular concern, and she would discuss reimposing a ban on
A previous US decision to lift a ban on such sales had
been a mistake, she told the NBC television network.
Earlier on her visit she admitted that America's
appetite for drugs was helping to fuel the violence.
Some 8,000 people have died in drug-related violence in
Mexico over the past two years.
Mrs Clinton said assault weapons did not belong on
She was referring to a ban on the sale of such powerful
guns which was in effect in the United Sates between 1994 and 2004.
"During that time," said Mrs Clinton, "police in America
were able to drive down crime because they didn't have to worry about these
assault weapons getting into the hands of criminals and gang members.
"So we will make the case that we need to put more teeth
in the law, try to prohibit the sale outside of our borders of these guns," she
said, stressing that Congress might oppose such a ban.
On the first day of her visit, Mrs Clinton had said an
"insatiable" US demand for illegal drugs was fuelling the drug trade.
"Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally
smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police
officers, soldiers and civilians.
"I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility."
She also acknowledged that US efforts to ban drugs had
so far been unsuccessful in stopping the narcotics trade.
"Clearly, what we have been doing has not worked and it
is unfair for our incapacity... to be creating a situation where people are
holding the Mexican government and people responsible," she said.
Mrs Clinton said the Obama administration, working with
the US Congress, intended to pledge $80m (Ł55m) to help Mexico buy Blackhawk
"These aircraft will help Mexican police respond
aggressively and successfully to the threats coming from the cartels," she said.
Mrs Clinton's trip is the first in a series of visits by
high-level officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and
Attorney General Eric Holder, before President Barack Obama himself visits
Mexico in mid-April.
Ms Napolitano told the BBC on Wednesday that there had
been a significant escalation of violence in Mexico, in part because of US
efforts to clamp down on trafficking routes.
But, she said: "The most important thing is that the
federal government of Mexico is now battling these cartels, and they weren't in
the past. And as a result the violence between the cartels and the government of
Mexico has really increased."
The Ongoing Mexico Crisis -- Blaming
American Gun Owners
Friday, March 20, 2009
Congress has jumped in with both feet when it comes to
the crisis of violence in Mexico, and the usual suspects are once again blaming
American gun owners and American gun laws. This week there were two more
hearings, one in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Drugs and Crime, and the
other in the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Western Hemisphere. In both
cases, anti-gun politicians such as Senators Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein,
and Congressman Eliot Engel, blamed American gun laws for the crisis.
Fortunately, in both hearings, gun rights supporters in Congress stood up for
American gun owners.
In the House subcommittee hearing, Chairman Engel made
it clear from the onset he viewed this issue from one perspective: guns. His
solution to the ultra violent Mexican drug cartels is to blame American gun
owners and American gun laws.
Kristen Rand, the Legislative Director of the Violence
Policy Center, repeated the unsubstantiated claim that 90% of guns seized from
the cartels come from the U.S., blamed America's gun laws and called for BATFE
to use the broadest possible interpretation of the "sporting purposes" test to
ban a much larger class of semi-auto rifles.
Congressman Connie Mack (R-Fla.), however, challenged
Rand's claim that 90% of guns seized from the cartels are from the United
States. Rand cited the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE)
for her claim. But the BATFE has only stated that 90% of the guns traced
are from America. BATFE only traces a fraction of the guns seized; those
firearms are not selected randomly, but are likely selected because they are the
guns most likely to have come from the U.S. Trace data reveals nothing about
the large number of guns that are not traced.
In defending her call to ban the import of all "assault
rifles" into America, Rand admitted she had no idea how many of those guns were
subsequently smuggled into Mexico. But a recent
article in the Los Angles Times may shed some light on the real source of
the cartels' weapons. The article describes the military arms being used
by cartels in their battles with the Mexican army and federal police, and how
those weapons are entering Mexico not through the U.S., but through Central
In the Senate Judiciary subcommittee, Chairman Durbin
also made it clear he thought American guns, and not drug lords, drug users or
illegal gun traffickers are the cause of violence in Mexico. Durbin had a terse
exchange with Senator Jeff Sessions when Senator Sessions stated that American
guns were not the problem. Durbin snapped back at the Senator from Alabama,
stating his firm belief that guns were indeed the problem.
In addition to Durbin, Senator Dianne Feinstein used
this forum to express her long opposition to American gun owners' rights. In
her remarks she made it clear she intends to use this crisis as an excuse to
promote new gun laws here at home. During her remarks, she repeated the claim
that 90% of seized guns come from America, and also stated that there are over
2,000 guns smuggled into Mexico from the U.S. each day.
Feinstein even tried to elicit support for that number
from a representative from the BATFE. But when he responded that the number was
much lower, most likely in the hundreds, Senator Feinstein was clearly unhappy
that he would not endorse her anti-gun soundbite.
Not everything that came out of the hearings was
negative. In the Senate hearing, Senator Sessions made it clear that American
gun rights should not be sacrificed. His statement of support sent the message
to anti-gun senators that they would find strong opposition to their efforts to
use the Mexico crisis as an excuse to undermine those rights.
Additionally, three representatives of U.S. law
enforcement, one each from BATFE, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, made it clear that the increase in violence in Mexico is
being misinterpreted by the media and politicians. They testified that the
increase in violence is a direct result of the actions taken by Mexican
President Felipe Calderon to take on the cartels. The cartels, they testified,
are being pressured more than ever before and are fighting back in desperation,
resulting in casualties. But in the end, they believed, the battle to shut down
the cartels would be won.
For American gun owners, the battle will be to make sure
that our Second Amendment rights are not sacrificed by scheming anti-gun
politicians who see an opportunity to advance their gun ban agenda.
NRA-ILA will continue to closely monitor all activities
relating to the crisis in Mexico and will keep our members informed. If you
wish to view the hearings, please use the following links.
Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere: "Guns, Drugs and Violence:
The Merida Initiative and the Challenge in Mexico"
Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs: "Law Enforcement Responses to Mexican