NSSF Shuts Down Anti-Gunner’s Mexico Gun Myth

Larry Keane, President of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), is always hard at work tearing down anti-gun hysteria and baseless lies perpetuated by the media. A relatively recent website called The Trace consistently spouts anti-Second Amendment propaganda and uses fuzzy math and exaggerated claims to make its point. A recent piece by the Bloomberg-backed Trace blamed American firearm dealers for the cartel and gun violence in Mexico and other Central American countries. This, of course, is not the case, but the anti-gun left needs to find as many reasons as possible to pass unconstitutional gun control laws. Not one for allowing misinformation about firearms cloud the judgement of Americans, Larry Keane dissects the tired Mexico gun myth.

From Larry Keane, President of the NSSF:
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Rather than focusing on the real problems Mexico faces with gang violence, criminal activity and law enforcement, the anti-gun website “The Trace,” recently blamed U.S. firearms retailers for the region’s struggles. Far from being news (or accurate), we hear time and time again that a significant percentage of the firearms misused by the drug cartels in Mexico were sold by federally licensed firearms retailers (FFLs) in the United States.

This myth was born out of Congressional testimony by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) wherein the ATF misstated, and quickly attempted to clarify, that 90 percent of the firearms recovered in Mexico in 2008 came from the United States. Since then, the myth has been propagated by the media and members of our government such as Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Diane Feinstein (D- Ca) and even then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The truth is that less than 12 percent of the guns Mexico seized in 2008, for example, have been verified as coming from the U.S. In 2008, approximately 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals in Mexico. Of these 30,000, only 7,200 (24 percent) were submitted to the ATF for tracing. This is because only these firearms were likely to have come from the U.S., a determination made by the presence of a U.S. mandated serial number and the firearm’s make and model – requirements under federal law as part of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Of the 7,200 firearms submitted for tracing, only about 4,000 (13 percent) could be traced by the ATF of which roughly 3,480 (12 percent) came from the U.S. Although 3,480 is approximately 90 percent of the firearms successfully traced, it is hardly the mythical 90 percent of the total firearms recovered. In reality, even the more accurate 12 percent figure overestimates the true number of firearms from the United States.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Mexico Institute) points out that many of the serial numbers submitted for tracing were submitted to the ATF multiple times, some as many as five times each. In fact, ATF has noted that more than 20 percent of the firearms submitted for tracing are in fact duplicates. With such errors distorting the statistics it is clear that even fewer than 12 percent of these firearms originated in the U.S. And of the small number that did come from the U.S., many did not come from FFLs.

The U.S. Government also sells firearms directly to the Mexican Government. Mexican soldiers continue to defect to work for the drug cartels, taking their American-made service rifles with them. In recent years the number of defections has soared to more than 150,000. Furthermore, of those successfully traced, on average they were sold at retail 15 years earlier – and following an FBI background check. This extended time-to-crime figure dispels the notion that there is a flood of recently purchased firearms heading into Mexico from the United States.

According to U.S. State Department cables, the most lethal weapons used by Mexican cartels come from Central American arsenals. Grenades, now the number one choice of the cartels to attack military, police and civilians, come mainly from Mexico itself and Guatemala. Another significant source of weaponry is Colombia and its Revolutionary Armed Forces (“FARC”). And according to a 2006 report by Amnesty International, China was actively supplying arms to Latin American countries, which have subsequently been seized in Mexico. Clearly FFLs in the U.S. are not the main source of Mexico’s gun-related violence problem.
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In 2009, in response to concerns over the violence in Mexico, the ATF conducted more than 2,000 inspections of firearms retailers in Texas and Arizona. These inspections did not result in a single dealer being charged with a crime.

The firearms industry, through NSSF, has supported and funded the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy anti-straw purchasing campaign for more than a decade. This joint effort between the ATF and NSSF helps to educate firearms retailers on how to better detect and deter illegal purchases of firearms and warns the public that it is a serious crime to engage in a straw purchase.

Furthermore, according to ATF, federally licensed firearms retailers serve as a primary source of information for law enforcement combating illegal firearm trafficking and routinely report questionable transactions to authorities, including the ATF. We agree that crime needs to be addressed in Mexico; however, diminishing the civil rights of law-abiding Americans is neither an option nor a solution.

It’s true that, as the Trace states, “Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador each tightly restricts civilian gun ownership.” The irony of this is that the Trace is admitting gun control measures do not work. Criminals obtain guns regardless of the law. The only impact is on the law-abiding citizens who are not able to defend themselves and their property.

Yes, criminals must be prosecuted. The existing laws prohibiting illegal trafficking of firearms must be enforced. But the answer is not for the U.S. to use Mexico as a gun control model – that much is clear.

Don’t be misled; follow Defender Outdoors and the NSSF for more anti-hysteria articles.

13 Comments On This Article

  1. In Louisville Kentucky mayor Fischer recently held an anti gun rally. Where an anti gun group called “Mothers against gun violence” wore hunter orange hunting vest in an attempt to link law abiding hunters with drug and gang related black on black murders.

    • “Mothers Against Gun Violence” is one of many groups that’s funded (ultimately) by George Soros. Just FYI.

      The saddest part is how many people are ignorant not only to this but, to true numbers. As a result, they protest like good little puppets for the puppeteer.

      We the people need to keep disseminating the truth, facts and data. I’m glad this article was written. Gosh how I wish there was a chance this would actually be given major time and attention by the national media outlets. Alas, I know it’s a pipe dream. However, someone like the group ‘Anonymous’ could always hack their sites and place this on their lead off of reading. Doubtful it’s gonna ever happen but, it’d sure be a great thing.

  2. The evidence for pro gun is huge, the misuse of information developed by anti gun is enormous and the political will of the left to distinguish the truth from fact just plain sucks…..It is appreciated that time and effort to put fact and evidence in front of the public by those pro gun, never say quit….

  3. I wonder how many of the less than 12% of the guns recovered were given to the gangs and cartels by Obama’s “Fast and Furious”?

  4. The Mexican cartels have so much money and international contacts, the easiest thing for them to do is get them through international gun sellers. Want full auto? No problem. RPGs, AKs, grenade launchers, real machine guns, need a Ma Deuce? No problemo partner.

  5. It doesn’t matter how many of the guns in Mexico come from the U.S., using Mexican logic it is all Mexico’s fault.

    A number of years ago the Mexican president was confronted about the illegal drug trade from Mexico to the U.S. The Mexican president stated that the U.S. was to blame for the drugs being smuggled in from Mexico. He said that if there wasn’t the demand in the U.S. for the drugs, there would be no smuggling.

    Using that logic, if there wasn’t a demand in Mexico for the guns, the guns wouldn’t be smuggled in from the U.S. Therefore, the illegal gun trade in Mexico is the responsibility of Mexico.

  6. Just an fyi, the articles put out by the Trace have no comment section to dispute their claims. However, they do have a facebook presence where you can dispute their claims.

  7. This article, as well as others like it need to be printed in other venues and sites other than the typical pro second amendment sites like this one. We, the people who were blessed with common sense and ability to critically think know these things, already. preaching to the choir here.

  8. While our guns are not causing the violence down there, our drug policy is definitely causing violence. Ending prohibition here will go a long way towards reducing the cartels’ power in the long run. Don’t like drugs? don’t use em.

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