Guns

GAO Issues Misleading Report on Mexico Violence and U.S. Guns

By Ted Novin

The General Accounting Office (GAO) of the United States has released a study on firearms trafficking and violence in Mexico.

The report, which NSSF is still reviewing, appears to be rife with
error. Consider the following claim: “According to U.S. and Mexican
government officials, these firearms have been increasingly more
powerful and lethal in recent years. For example, many of these
firearms are high-caliber and high-powered, such as AK and AR-15 type
semiautomatic rifles.”

These rifles, of course, are no more “powerful” or “lethal” than any
other lawful rifle, and they fire ammunition that is considerably less
powerful than other hunting rifles.

The report has also led to a revival of false allegations regarding
recovered firearms in Mexico. As the trade association for the
firearms industry, we believe it is important to set the record
straight (and separate fact from fiction):

Some 29,000 firearms were recovered in Mexico last year, 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.

Although it’s understandable that Mexican authorities and
sympathetic American agencies are frustrated with cartel-related
violence, it is wrong for anyone to blame the Second Amendment and
America’s firearms industry for those problems.

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 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. Senior executives from NSSF will be continuing the acclaimed
Don’t Lie campaign next week in both the Rio Grande Valley (Texas) and
Houston (Texas).

Going through the full GAO report will take some time, but no one
should be under any illusions; from what we’ve read so far, facts take
a backseat to unfounded allegations and hyperbole.

Read the Opposing Views debate, Are U.S. Guns to Blame for Violence in Mexico?