Mexican Violence, Gun Controls

By Hoar, William P. | The New American, May 25, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Mexican Violence, Gun Controls

Hoar, William P., The New American

ITEM: On the CBS television show Face the Nation on April 12, in an interview with Bob Schieffer, Mexico's Ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan tried to blame much of the violence in his country on the allegedly lax gun-control laws in the United States. He maintained in part: "Ninety percent of all weapons we are seizing in Mexico, Bob, are coming from across the United States." Reinstituting the so-called assault-weapons ban in the United States, which expired in 2004, said the ambassador, "could have a profound impact on the number and the caliber of weapons going down to Mexico."

ITEM: On April 20, Time magazine commemorated the 10th anniversary of the murders at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, with an article on its site decrying that, over the past decade, "massacres perpetrated by deranged gunmen have continued." However, said writer Michael Lindenberger, "something odd has occurred. Whatever momentum the Columbine killings gave to gun control has long since petered out." The Time writer grumbled that "the debate seems to be almost one-sided nowadays, with an ongoing backlash against gun control."

CORRECTION: The Time writer who complained about one-sidedness in the gun-control "debate" was firing blanks: he gave but one side of the issue--for more controls.

As it happens, the worst shooting incidents in the United States have occurred in areas where the deck has been stacked against armed sell-defense. As pointed out by John Lott, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland and the author of More Guns, Less Crime, "All multiple victim public shootings with more than three people killed have occurred where permitted concealed handguns are prohibited."

Meanwhile, the "90 percent" figure--widely alleged to be the percentage of guns recovered at Mexican crime scenes originating in the United States--is being sprayed around like real machine-gun fire. Very inaccurately, as it turns out.


For example, when President Obama was in Mexico, he said: "More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that lay in our shared border." In similar fashion, Senator Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.) griped 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."

That loaded statistic has also been used by, among others, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Washington Post, CNN, and innumerable other media outlets, and even an official from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) before Congress.

Yet, those figures are wildly overblown. When pressed by William Le Jeunesse and Maxim Lott of Fox News, a spokeswoman for BATF acknowledged that "over 90 percent of the traced firearms originated from the United States"-- a very different figure. An analysis by Fox revealed that the statistic so favored by the gun grabbers referred only to a much smaller subtotal that Mexico sent to the United States and were successfully traced; it didn't include the thousands obviously not from the United States that were not submitted to the BATF. As the

Fox writers explained:

   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 scenes.

   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. 

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