Monday, April 30, 2012



Note: "The majority of the sales linked back to the U.S. according
to this trace data, actually come from government to government
sales, not from normal sales made in American gun shops."

TF Publishes Misleading Trace Data From Mexico
Katie Pavlich
News Editor, Townhall
Apr 27, 2012

Yesterday afternoon, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms
released firearms tracing data to the press from Mexico between the
years 2007-2011 during a roundtable discussion and presentation given
by ATF Special Agent John Hageman. The data was released at ATF
headquarters in Washington D.C. Reporters were allowed to bring pen
and paper, but were prohibited from bringing computers or recording
devices. When we arrived, despite prohibiting the use of computers,
ATF gave us a flashdrive.


That's the percentage of guns traced in Mexico to United States
sources or Federal Firearms Licensees [gun dealers] according to the
Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

In September 2009, the Mexican government provided ATF with
"electronic files containing firearms identifiers and recovery data.
The electronic files contained information that initiated over 43,000
firearms traces, excluding duplicates, with most having recovery
years ranging from CY 2007 to 2009," according to information given
to the press.

The majority of the sales linked back to the U.S. according to this
trace data, actually come from government to government sales, not
from normal sales made in American gun shops. Despite this fact, anti-
gun groups and members of Congress use this misleading data to push
for more gun control and regulations on retail stores.

California Senator Diane Feinstein used similar data during a hearing
about Operation Fast and Furious last fall to call for more gun
regulation, as did embattled Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.

"ATF isn't making a determination on how people view our data," ATF
Special Agent John Hageman said.

Or are they? ATF uses these numbers to justify its new long gun
reporting measures. The new measures were implemented last summer and
require border state gun dealers to report multiple sales of semi-
automatic rifles.

Hageman said since the new reporting measures were put into place
last fall, ATF has opened up 100 new investigations and has named 30
defendants as a result. Sounds great right? Wrong. "100" is simply
the number of opened investigations on 70 percent of people ATF
wanted to look into for buying more than one semi-automatic rifle at
a time. The 30 statistic is the number of actual possible criminals/
named defendants.

I asked if guns trafficked into Mexico during the Obama Justice
Department's Operation Fast and Furious program were being counted in
this data. Although Hageman wouldn't openly admit Fast and Furious
guns were being lumped in with this data, he responded by saying that
any gun submitted for tracing in Mexico and traced back to the U.S.
is counted.

I also asked why guns were not checked through the National Crime
Information Center database to see if they were reported stolen
before being counted in this data. It was determined that stolen guns
are indeed counted in this data.

"I don't have an accurate accounting for that [stolen guns]," Hageman

In addition, I asked if ATF had any plans in the future to break down
trace data into categories such as personal retail sales traces
verses large sales traces from FFLs to foreign governments that are
approved by the State Department. The answer was no.

Republican Senator Charles Grassley has questioned the validity of
ATF firearms trace data in the past and issued a statement regarding
trace data released by ATF yesterday.

"Thorough gun statistics are hard to come by and tricky to
interpret. The key to this data is that most of these guns can't be
traced to U.S. gun dealers. And, some of those would actually trace
back to the United States because of the federal government's own
gunwalking scandal. We also have to remember that the only guns
Mexico is going to submit for tracing are guns they know are from the
United States, which clearly paints an incomplete picture of the
firearms found in the Mexico," Grassley said.

In the end, ATF counts stolen guns in this data, guns sold to foreign
governments by FFLs under the approval of the State Department in
this data and counts guns ATF and DOJ purposely sent into Mexico as
"guns being traced back to the U.S."

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