The Media, Mexico, and Guns: Getting It Wrong, Again


President Barack Obama with Stephen Harper and Felipe Calderón.

When the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) recently announced it wanted to require federally licensed firearms retailers along the Southwest border to report multiple sales of modern sporting rifles, the mainstream media reported this action as response to drug cartel-related violence in Mexico.

Numerous stories repeated the notion that the firearms being used by these narco criminals came from the United States—with the clear implication they originated from U.S. gun shops.

Not so, said Lawrence Keane, vice president and legal counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

As Keane noted on a recent NSSF website posting, even BATFE statics on the matter revealed that, “the average age of recovered firearms in Mexico is more than 14 years past the original date of purchase, a clear indicator that these firearms have not been recently purchased in the United States.  Furthermore, it has been well-documented (Washington Post, July 17, 2010) that drug cartels are illegally smuggling fully-automatic firearms, grenades and other weapons into Mexico from South and Central America.”

Also receiving little media attention:  that over 150,000 Mexican Army troops have essentially “defected” to the drug cartels.  When they did so, these troops took their American-made service rifles with them.

Last, Keane added, “In response to concerns over the violence in Mexico, BATFE has conducted nearly 2,000 inspections of firearms dealers along the border.  The result? Not a single dealer was charged with committing any crime and only two (or 0.01%) had their licenses revoked for unknown reasons that could have nothing to do with the cartels illegally obtaining firearms from retailers in the United States.”

SOURCE: NSSF 12/21/10

Click here to read a response to this story by Gun Digest the Magazine Senior Editor Kevin Michalowski.

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