The Government Accounting Office (GAO) recently released a report on guns confiscated by the Mexican police and military, submitted to the ATF for tracing. As RF reported, the document is deeply flawed — by the government’s own admission. For one thing, the GAO report was careful to mention they have no idea of the total number of guns seized by the Mexican government over the time period covered (2009-2014). Also obvious by its absence: a range of data that the ATF must have recorded to run their trace . . .
When were the guns manufactured?
What caliber chambering?
Which manufacturers and models?
In all, the ATF traced 73,684 guns (out of an unknown total universe). That’s a large enough sample to generate some important statistical data — which the ATF used to provide, but no longer does.
For example, the mainstream media is using this report to justify separate ATF reporting requirements for multiple long gun sales in border states, and generally vilify “assault weapons” (e.g., washingtonpost.com‘s Why Mexico’s drug cartels love America’s gun laws). It would be helpful to know how many AR-15’s or AK’s were in the sample.
All the ATF told us: 61 percent of the guns traced were handguns, and 39 percent were long guns. In my experience in Panama, the single shot shotgun is the most common gun available in rural areas. It’s sturdy, reliable, sufficiently powerful for most game, does not require precise aiming, and is, most importantly, cheap.
If you look at the picture of the autodefensas above, notice that most of the guns being held are single shot shotguns. I see at least three, probably four, .22 rimfire rifles and one double barrel shotgun. One man in front has a revolver tucked in his waistband. A 12-gauge break open shotgun can be made to fire 16-gauge and even 20 -gauge shells, in a pinch, with some windings of tape to make them chamber without bursting. (Do not try this at home!)
In the old Soviet Union, people tried to determine what was happening by analyzing what was not being said or printed. If we were allowed to look inside the ATF trace numbers, I suspect we would find a lot of old .22 rifles and shotguns.
Pistols are hard to come by in Mexico, yet they accounted for 61 percent of the gun submitted for trace by the Mexican government. I suspect that most of the handguns are old .22s or revolvers. Because of Mexico’s ban on certain military calibers, there may be an over representation of less common calibers, such as 9mm Largo. (Spanish Star pistols in 9mm Largo were popular in Yuma when they came on the surplus market a decade and more ago.)
President Barack Obama declared that he’d make his administration the most transparent in history. The ATF’s politicized report on the guns submitted by Mexico to the ATF for trace is yet another example that puts paid to that promise.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.