How could the Houston Chronicle write about Mexican gun running without once mentioning the ATF’s Gunwalker Scandal? Actually, I’ve got a better question: why would the Houston Chronicle write about the guns smuggled to Mexican drug cartels without making a single reference to the fact that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) let thousands of guns walk across our southern border to the bad guys? It can only be that worst of all possible journalistic combinations: willful ignorance . . .
Convicted gun smuggler John Phillip Hernandez of Houston was likely not the kind of customer that Bushmaster Firearms International had in mind when he purchased 14 of their .223-caliber AR-15s at Houston area gun shops in 2006 and 2007.
Bushmaster describes the AR-15 rifles, a civilian version of the U.S. military’s standard-issue M-16, as intended “for law enforcement, security and private consumer use.“ But the weapons Hernandez and his associates purchased ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartel pistoleros, including a Bushmaster .223 that was used to kill four police officers and three secretaries in Acapulco.
It’s no surprise that Dan Freedman’s article starts with a five-year-old gun smuggling “case study.” That’s the same year the ATF launched Project Gunrunner to trace firearms heading from American gun dealers to Mexican drug thugs. By February 2008, Project Gunrunner had gone rogue, wandering into ATF-sponsored/enabled/perpetuated gun smuggling.
If Freedman had chronicled any case of gun smuggling after that date, Gunwalker’s dark shadow would have cast a pall on his central thesis: a lack of U.S. gun control leads to Mexican drug thugs’ gun crime.
Freedman would have been forced to acknowledge that U.S. government sanctioned smuggling had resulted in even more cartel murder and mayhem than [let’s call it] freelance gun smuggling. Lest we forget, the ATF part of the program includes weapons used in the death of not one but two U.S. law enforcement officials.
A Hearst Newspapers survey of 1,600 guns purchased mostly in Texas and Arizona – which were either shipped to Mexico or intercepted en route – shows the Bushmaster .223 AR-15 ranks second among firearms apparently used in drug warfare.
The survey – drawn from guns identified by manufacturer or importer in U.S. court documents from 44 cases involving 165 defendants in Texas, Arizona and three other states – shows the purveyors of guns to Mexican drug traffickers followed a time-honored maxim of product salesmanship: Bigger is definitely better.
Now would be an excellent time to mention the Gunwalker scandal, as the ATF itself has admitted that it had a lot more than a little something to do with at least two thousand guns smuggled into Mexico. In fact, most of the guns that Freedman refers to are linked one way or another with Gunwalker.
In the world of assault-type weaponry, power is measured by bullet caliber, velocity and range, as well rapidity of fire and ammunition magazine capacity.
“The gun traffickers supplying Mexican drug organizations have become more selective and sophisticated in the weapons they acquire,”‘ said Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Washington-based Violence Policy Center, which extensively studied the issue. “Their goal is the bulk purchase of maximum firepower.”
And now we know why this piece is ATF-blind. The VPC is the gun grabbing group whose main man invented the term “assault rifle” and deliberately used it to conflate semi-automatic and automatic rifles to scare Americans into banning an entire class of weapons. A ban that still exists in California.
The VPC has a strict “pay no attention to that government gun-running behind that curtain” stance. And no wonder. Anything that makes gun control and those who would implement it (e.g., the ATF) look bad is bad. Anything that makes gun control look good (i.e. necessary) is good.
From the VPC’s perspective, this article is very, very good.
The Bushmaster .223 comes with a 30-round magazine, enabling the shooter to fire all 30 rounds, one for each pull of the trigger, in a minute or less. John Allen Muhammad, the D.C. sniper, and his youthful accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, used a Bushmaster .223 in nine of 10 sniper-style murders that terrorized the Washington area in 2002.
That’s not just a stretch, it’s the VPC’s very own stretch, lent to Freedman in the service of pseudo-journalism. And here’s the part where Freedman tosses the pro-gun folks a bone.
Worried that weapons purchases for drug cartels might fuel more calls for gun control, gun-rights advocates insist that the laws are sufficient to control such trafficking.
“The brand names are inconsequential; what matters is that our laws aren’t being enforced,” said Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs for the National Rifle Association. “We have adequate laws on the books. If someone is breaking the law, go after them. If not, they should be left alone. That’s the NRA position.“
It’s an odd, toothless sound bite that seems like it was cut and pasted from the top of the article. Anyway, time for some proper disinformation.
Since the federal law banning assault weapons expired in 2004, so-called “straw purchasers“ have flooded U.S. gun stores in the Southwest, mostly in Texas and Arizona, sweeping up these and other weapons. Court documents show such purchasers buying as many as 20 AK-47s at a time, paying as much as $11,000 in cash
The weapons are sold legally but the purchasers must sign a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives document saying they are buying the guns for themselves. Straw purchases for others are a violation of federal firearms law.
Typically, the purchaser turns the guns over to a broker who takes them across the border to Mexico, where such weapons cannot be bought legally. The weapons are sold to the cartels, often for three or four times the original price.
Top ATF officials have said in congressional testimony that 90 percent of the guns submitted for tracing by Mexican authorities are from the United States. Gun-rights advocates doubt the accuracy of that claim.
Again, how could Freedman talk about straw purchasers “flooding” U.S. gun stores without mentioning A) any statistical metric to justify his metaphorical deluge and B) the ATF’s role in that traffic? As far as the VPC and, by extension, Freedman are concerned, it’s like it never happened.
The last bit is especially galling. Gun rights advocates don’t doubt the accuracy of that ATF’s “90 percent of guns submitted by the Mexican to the ATF for trace” claim. They point out that the stat lacks context.
How many guns have the Mexican government confiscated that they didn’t submit for tracing? Where are those guns coming from? Why would the Mexicans submit non-American guns for an ATF trace, anyway?
Answer: they didn’t. Just as Freedman didn’t do his homework; reports from the ATF indicate that they traced many of these guns twice. Or more.
Heads up Mr. Freedman: most of the Mexican drug cartels’ weapons (including grenades and fully automatic rifles) come from government-sanctioned military and law-enforcement sales that “seep” into the bad guys’ arsenals.
Which the Chronicle chronicles, starting with ye olde “cop killer” FN FiveseveN and ending with this AK-oriented gun control “money shot.” A dietribe [sic] inspired by sfgate.com‘s self-congratulatory “it wazzunt me” gun control high-five, regurgitated without even hinting at the role Gunwalker plays in this disinformation data dump.
The Hearst survey parallels the findings of a 2009 Violence Policy Center report documenting 21 gun-trafficking court cases involving 1,700 guns, as well as a federal law enforcement report this year, based on 2,921 guns recovered in Mexico and traced to original U.S. purchases between December 2006 and November 2010. Both reports included the Romanian-imported AK-47, the Bushmaster .223, the FN Five-SeveN pistol, the FN Herstal PS90 rifle, and the Beretta 9 mm pistol in their top 10s. The federal report also concluded that of 2,921 traced guns, 1,470, or 50 percent, were from Texas. A total of 852, 29 percent, were from Arizona. California, by contrast, accounted for 90 guns, three percent of the total. California gun-control activists credited that state’s low total to strict state firearms laws that severely limit sales of military-style weaponry. The report put AK-47s imported from Romania as No. 1.
The ATF must love reports like this. Stories that repeat the same old lies and distortions about the source of the Mexican drug cartels’ firearms and make it seem like America’s lax gun laws are to blame for the narco-terrorists’ endless killing spree.
Truth be told, Freedman’s failure is a great landing at the wrong airport. Our sources tell us the Bushmaster IS the drug cartels’ AR of choice. But the weapons come from perfectly legal U.S. to Mexico military and law enforcement sales. Sales that both the ATF and their journalistic toadies willfully ignore, as Mexico’s murderous mayhem continues.