Thoughts on tracing of guns in Mexico
Here's an AP article on tracing of guns seized in Mexico. A few thoughts:
1. "In all, the military has 305,424 confiscated weapons locked in vaults..." :The Mexican government has handed over information to U.S. authorities to trace 12,073 weapons seized in 2008 crimes..."
Now, that's comparing total to one year's figures. But the major drug wars really got nasty around 2006. A logical conclusion is that only a tiny fraction, 1/6 or less, are being traced, and those most likely chosen as likely originate in the US. Why waste time trying to trace a full auto Bulgarian AK using American records? When the sampling is limited to gun likely to have a US origin, it stands to reason that much of the sample will ... have a US origin.
2. "Some of the more powerful arms, such as M16 machine guns and sniper rifles, are added to the military's own arsenal." Where do you get a full auto M-16? The likely source is Mexico's military, by theft. But those, too, are counted as having American origin.
3. "About a third of the guns submitted for tracing in 2007 were sold by licensed U.S. dealers." Yet later the story says "Most of the guns traced were originally sold by U.S. dealers in border states, with more than half purchased in Texas."
4. Tracing ends when the gun is traced to the dealer who first sold it at retail. So a gun sold legally in 1990, stolen in 2010 and smuggled into Mexico, would count as traced to an American dealer -- but hardly show that the dealer did anything wrong. The story adds, "Indeed, the ATF gave the AP data showing the average "time to crime" - the time between when a gun was sold and when it was seized in a crime - is 14 years. That's an average of four years longer than guns in American crimes, the ATF said." It certainly sounds like the problem isn't with the dealers; they're making legitimate sales, and the guns wind up stolen long after that.
5. You'd think for something of this magnitude, AP would pick a reporter who knew a little about firearms and tracing. The story talks of M-16 machine guns, a 9mm grenade launcher, of AR-15s modified to fire .50 caliber ammo "the kind of high-powered ammunition designed for sniper rifles."
Here's David Codrea's takedown of the story.