Monday, April 30, 2012

AZMEX F&F EXTRA P1 29-4-12


The Shrinking 'Vast Majority': NSSF Responds to ATF Mexican Trace Report
April 27, 2012 By Larry Keane 4 Comments

ATF yesterday released a report on firearms submitted by the
government of Mexico for tracing since 2007. One screaming headline
referred to the "Vast Majority of Mexican Crime Guns Originate in
U.S. New ATF Trace Data Reveals." If you have been following the
issue of Mexican gun traces on this blog, you will realize the truth
is a rapidly shrinking "Vast Majority" and the so-called "flood" of
guns going into Mexico moves at glacier-like speed.

The mainstream media has consistently falsely claimed that 90 percent
of all firearms recovered in Mexico come from the United States. The
"90 percent myth" stems from a misstatement by then-ATF Deputy
Director Billy Hoover during congressional testimony in 2009. The
myth spread like wildfire and the smoke from that firestorm still
obscures the facts. We have put the lie to the 90 percent myth in
past blog posts. A report by the independent research group STRATFOR
has shown that it is erroneous and grossly misleading to say the
majority of firearms recovered in Mexico came from the United
States. In fact, only 12 percent of the firearms misused in Mexico
were originally sold at retail in the United States.

In 2009, a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
showed that only about 80 percent of firearms recovered in Mexico and
submitted for tracing were originally sold at retail in the United
States, not the 90 percent the media keeps reporting.

But it shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that many of the firearms
recovered and traced come from the United States. That is because
U.S. law requires markings on firearms precisely so they can be
traced by law enforcement through commerce. It is sort of like
tracing the VIN number on cars on a Ford dealership lot and be
surprised to learn that most are Fords. What the 90 percent myth does
not account for, and the media turns a blind eye to, and what
yesterday's ATF report does not shed light on, is the fact that you
know nothing about the firearms recovered in Mexico but were never
traced — like the firearms that the 150,000 or so Mexican soldiers
took with them when they defected to go work for the drug cartels
over the past several years.

Logically, Mexican officials wouldn't bother to trace the U.S.-made
firearms they know belonged to the Mexican government or law
enforcement, the results of which would be highly embarrassing to
Mexican officials. Nor does yesterday's report account for guns that
have been smuggled into Mexico from South and Central America.

As Professor Gary Kleck has observed, "It's likely that police in
Mexico submit for ATF tracing only those crime guns that they believe
originated in the U.S. This would be reasonable, since those are the
ones that the ATF is likely to be able to trace, but it is not a
sample from which to generalize. Even if guns of American origin
account for only a small share of all Mexican crime guns, they would
comprise nearly all of those submitted by the Mexican authorities for
tracing by the ATF."

It is important to note that these percentages do not reflect the
total number of firearms recovered. In fact, in 2009 then-ATF Acting
Director Kenneth Melson sent a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-
Calif.) admitting, "There are no United States Government sources
that maintain any record of the total number of criminal firearms
seized in Mexico."

Yesterday's ATF report shows that this "vast majority" continues to
shrink. According to ATF, of the firearms recovered and traced by
Mexico during the time period covered by the report, as few as 65
percent, and most recently just 71 percent, of the firearms Mexico
asked ATF to trace were determined to have come from the United
States. But even the information in yesterday's report is not
entirely new information. In a report titled, "Halting U.S. Firearms
Trafficking to Mexico," released in June of 2011 by a trio of anti-
gun senators, Feinstein, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sheldon
Whitehouse (D-R.I.), showed the number of firearms that have been
recovered in Mexico and traced to the United States were actually
declining in recent years from the mythical 90 percent to an
unsubstantiated 70 percent. The June 2011 figures have now been

A deeper dive into yesterday's report reveals that even a smaller
percentage still were actually successfully traced to the first
retail purchaser, ranging from only 37 percent to as low as just 25
percent. It is important to heed ATF's caution that "[a] crime gun
trace alone does not mean that [a firearms retailer] or firearm
purchaser has committed an unlawful act. Crime gun trace information
is used in combination with other investigative facts in regulatory
and criminal enforcement." — ATF Crime Gun Trace Reports
(introduction, p. 4 of the Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative).

Perhaps ATF should also heed its own warnings. Its report cautions
that "firearms selected for tracing are not chosen for purposes of
determining which types, makes or models of firearms are used for
illicit purposes," that "[f]irearms selected [for tracing] do not
constitute a random sample and should not be considered
representative of the larger universe of all firearms used by
criminals, or any subset of that universe," and that "firearms traced
do not necessarily represent the source or methods by which firearms
in general are acquired for use in crime." Yet, that is precisely
what ATF said in its press release yesterday, declaring that the
trace data "shows a trend in recovered and submitted crime guns from
Mexico shifting from pistols and revolvers to rifles."

Auturo Sarukhan, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S., once made the
absurd claim that Mexico seizes 2,000 guns a day from the United
States — that amounts to 730,000 a year. Calderon claimed just the
other day to support his call for Congress to reinstate the ban on
modern sporting rifles that Mexico had recovered 140,000 firearms in
the past four years and that "the vast majority have been assault
weapons, AK-57s (sic), etc. And many, the vast majority of these
weapons, were sold in gun shops in the United States."

According to ATF, Mexico only submitted 68,000 firearms over five
years, many of which did not come from the United States. More
interesting, however, is the fact that of those firearms submitted
for tracing less than half, and in some years as few as 28 percent,
were rifles of any kind. The report does not break out the number or
percentage of so-called "assault rifles," i.e. AK-47 look-alikes
(Like M-16s, AK-47s are automatic firearms. While civilian versions
of M-16s are AR-15s, there is no corollary name for civilian versions
of AK-47) or AR-15 variants. The report also doesn't tell us what
percentage of the rifles submitted for tracing were determined not to
be of U.S. origin and it also doesn't tell us what percentage were
not successfully traced to the first retail purchaser.

Perhaps what is most interesting about ATF's report is the fact that
it does not discuss the "Time to Crime" (TTC) for the Mexican traced
firearms. ATF always gives TTC when it issues a tracing report
(click here for an example). Why did ATF omit this piece of
information? Because it knows that on average firearms (of all types)
recovered in Mexico and successfully traced were on average
originally sold at retail after a background check more than 15 years

It is increasingly clear that this rapidly shrinking "vast majority"
of firearms allegedly flooding over the border into Mexico are moving
at a glacial pace.

We can all agree that there are serious crime problems in Mexico, and
notwithstanding his factual misstatements, we do applaud Mexican
President Calderon's courage for cracking down on the drug cartels
and rampant corruption in his country, that has even reached inside
his inner circle. However, laying the blame for Mexico's crime at the
feet of the U.S. firearms industry is more an act of frustration than
a crime-fighting strategy, and, as we've said before, sacrificing the
constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans as a means of
addressing this issue is neither an option nor a solution.


Note: For those who may have missed it. Grenades are used or
recovered about every day, all over Mexico.

Obama admin. let grenades walk in Fast and Furious, documents show
Published: 12:33 AM 04/26/2012

By Matthew Boyle - The Daily Caller

In a shocking development in the Operation Fast and Furious
investigation, documents show Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives agents allowed grenade parts to walk in addition to guns.

The emails also show Obama administration officials acknowledging
that they may lose track of grenades but would still be able to
accomplish their original objective even if the grenades explode.

According to an internal email that was provided to Congress by the
Department of Justice and first reported by CBS News' Sharyl
Attkisson — who's been the media's most dogged reporter in tracking
down facts on Fast and Furious – ATF began watching accused smuggler
Jean Baptiste Kingery's AK-47 purchases in 2004. In the 2009 internal
ATF email, Obama administration officials admitted they believed
Kingery was "trafficking them into Mexico."

The 2009 email shows the ATF officials had then become aware of
Kingery's alleged grenade trafficking.

The administration officials then put together a plan: They secretly
intercepted Kingery's grenade parts after he ordered them online,
marked them with special paint and gave them back to him. Then, they
allowed him to take those grenade parts into Mexico. ATF was going to
try to find his weapons factory there — even though the U.S.
government and its federal law enforcement agencies have no
jurisdiction in Mexico — with the apparent goal of building a bigger
case against Kingery.

ATF agents had planned to work with Immigration and Customs
Enforcement officials — who, unlike ATF agents who ultimately report
to Attorney General Eric Holder, report up the chain to Homeland
Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. (RELATED: Full coverage of
Operation Fast and Furious)

The emails show ATF agents were aware they might lose track of
Kingery while they allowed him to transport the grenade parts into
Mexico. The emails also show ATF agents knew that the grenades could
end up exploding and killing innocent people if they proceeded with
the plan. That didn't stop the Obama administration's ATF from
allowing the grenades to walk.

"Even in a post blast, as long as the safety lever is recovered we
will be able to identify these tagged grenades," an official wrote in
one email.

In addition to those revelations, new evidence photos have emerged:
More than 2,000 rounds of ammunition and scores of grenade parts and
fuse assemblies are seen in evidence photos that were just turned
over to Congress. According to Attkisson's report, officials had
taken Kingery into custody in 2010 — long before Border Patrol agent
Brian Terry was murdered with a Fast and Furious-supplied gun — after
having caught him trying to transport that ammunition and those
grenade parts and fuse assemblies into Mexico hidden inside the spare
tire of the SUV he was travelling in.

Attkisson said that ATF agents questioned Kingery at that point but
then "inexplicably released" him.

Internally, some in the ATF objected to these practices. For
instance, ATF's Mexico attaché, Carlos Canino — who has cooperated
with congressional investigators and appeared willingly before the
House Oversight Committee last summer — said ATF was not supposed to
allow weapons, including grenades, to walk.

"We are forbidden from doing that type of activity," Canino wrote in
one email. "If ICE is telling you they can do that, they are full of

This news comes on the heels of Assistant Attorney General Ronald
Weich's decision to resign his post at the Department of Justice
soon. The University of Baltimore School of Law hired him as its new
dean and he starts in July. Weich was the DOJ official who provided
provably false information to Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa when
Grassley began investigating Fast and Furious.

On Feb. 4, 2011, Weich wrote to Congress that the idea that "ATF
'sanctioned' or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault
weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them into Mexico …
is false."

"ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased
illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico," Weich added in
that letter.

The DOJ has since retracted Weich's letter.

Not one government official has been held accountable for Operation
Fast and Furious. Scores of lawmakers — 125 House members, three U.S.
senators, two governors — and many major political figures, including
likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, have demanded
Holder's resignation or firing over Fast and Furious.

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