Last week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive released limited, massaged and misleading information about 99k guns found at Mexican crimes scenes submitted to the ATF’s eTrace system from 2007 to 2011. The Bureau’s stats highlighted the “fact”that 68k of these firearms were “U.S. sourced.” The ATF’s press release was a thinly veiled smear campaign aimed at U.S. gun dealers. A repeat attempt to disguise the true supply of cartel weaponry (U.S. military and police sales). And a political effort to justify the Bureau’s extra-legal activities (e.g., Fast and Furious and the new long gun registry). Like TTAG and other pro-gun websites parsing this story, our man Landis in Arizona has some questions about the data, starting with a simple one . . .
“1. Where’s the list of make, model and serial numbers for these firearms? Before the news of Fast & Furious broke and U.S. aid money started flowing to Mexican law enforcement, there was a good deal of information available about firearms recovered south of the border at crime scenes: time and location of incident; the guns’ make, model, and serial numbers. All this is being suppressed now.
2. Which arms were transferred to Mexican government via U.S. aid vs. guns that were the result of commercial (i.e. gun dealer) transactions? The State Department has authorized tens of thousands of military and police firearms sales in just in past few years.(Everywhere one can go in Mexico these days you see U.S. made firearms in hands of Mexican government personnel, especially the AR15/M16/M4 platform.) The information is there; any and all firearms sales leave an extensive paper trail.
3. Has the ATF cross-checked the list of confiscated guns against the FBI’s NICS register of stolen firearms? This should also include the firearms stolen in gun shop robberies, i.e. the smash and grabs, etc.—which we could never get ATF to discuss. For a long time here in the SW, it has been an article of faith that stolen firearms end up in Mexico. Just like so many vehicles.
4. Where did the rest of the 99k non-U.S. sourced firearms (31k) came from? Keeping in mind that governments who manufacture firearms and weapons in general can put any identification they want on them. None, duplicates, counterfeit, etc. As always, any significant number of weapons transferred involves one or more governments and their agendas.
5. How many members of the Mexican military have defected to the drug cartels? When Mexican soldiers switch sides to the cartels they bring their weapon with them. At least one per soldier. If we knew the number of desertions we’d be able to see the ATF stats in better perspective.
6. Where’s the data on guns destroyed by the Mexican government? Thousands of guns have gone under bulldozers. Where did those guns come from? It’s entirely possible that the Mexican government is destroying evidence: the guns smuggled by ATF-enabled cartel members during Fast and Furious and other U.S. sponsored programs.
7. What about the guns used by Mexican law enforcement or military working for drug cartels? We’ve heard numerous cases of officials loaning weapons to prison inmates to go out and do hits. How many of the guns (presumably not reported to the U.S. for trace) confiscated came from this source? There are also many reports of Mexican Army disarming local police or rounding them up to inspect firearms.
8. How old are the U.S. guns? Before the Mexican government instituted draconian gun controls about 25 to 30 years ago, there were many gun shops and sales to Mexican citizens. Of course U.S. made firearms were the vast majority imported and sold. The last time we heard the “time to crime” of the confiscated U.S. guns was seven years. Has that changed?
9. How many guns has Mexico imported from elsewhere? About a year ago, there was an uproar in Germany over exported arms being used in the drug war (e.g., H&K). And don’t forget our fiends in Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, et al, whose agenda would be well served by a destabilized or failed narco state on the U.S. border.
10. When will Congress demand this information? Given the ATF’s ongoing stonewalling on anything to do with Operation Fast and Furious [a.k.a., "Guns for Goons"] towards both journalists and congressional investigators, it looks like it will take a lawsuit and/or a contempt of Congress citation to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to provide useful data on U.S. firearms in Mexico.”