NYTimes Anti-Gun Agenda: Using Discredited Anti-Gun Statistic on Mexican Gun Purchases in U.S.


By: Warner Todd Huston

Once again The New York Times unleashes a not-so-hidden agenda on its reading public. Here the Times is regurgitating the debunked claim that “90%” of Mexico’s recovered guns used in crime south of the border are from U.S. gun dealers. There is a lot of misdirection in this piece against gun dealers and gun shows, as well. Contradictory claims are made with no proof offered but the say so of The Times.

The Times begins its tall tale by talking about Mexican gun smugglers that find it easy to buy “military style” weapons at U.S. gun shops to be smuggled into Mexico. The story talks of these “lightly regulated” gun dealers and blames them for the smuggling apparently because no records are kept or buyer’s identities ascertained. And near the top half of the story is the debunked “90%” claim.

Federal agents say about 90 percent of the 12,000 pistols and rifles the Mexican authorities recovered from drug dealers last year and asked to be traced came from dealers in the United States, most of them in Texas and Arizona.

This false claim was debunked weeks ago by William La Jeunesse and Maxim Lott in a piece titled, “The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S.

Lott and La Jeuesse gave us the facts of this false stat:

In fact, it’s not even close. The fact is, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S.

In 2007-2008, according to ATF Special Agent William Newell, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the ATF for tracing. Close to 6,000 were successfully traced — and of those, 90 percent — 5,114 to be exact, according to testimony in Congress by William Hoover — were found to have come from the U.S.

But in those same two years, according to the Mexican government, 29,000 guns were recovered at crime scenes.

In other words, 68 percent of the guns that were recovered were never submitted for tracing. And when you weed out the roughly 6,000 guns that could not be traced from the remaining 32 percent, it means 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico could not be traced to the U.S.

In truth most of the guns that the billionaires in the drug cartels import into Mexico come through Mexico’s southern border and are from China and Russia. I emphasize the simple fact that these drug dealers have billions of dollars at their disposal. They don’t need to hire little folks here and there to sneak across the U.S. border and spend months buying single guns from hundreds of different American gun dealers. These drug cartels have the money to go directly to international arms dealers and buy all they want. And they do so.

The Times piece also claims that Mexican drug cartels are buying “military style” guns in the U.S. then sneaking them across the border to “convert” them to fully automatic machine guns. This is also an absurd claim leading people to imagine that this is going on routinely. Again, these drug cartels have more money than the Catholic Church. They can buy guns already made fully automatic from the manufacturer when they buy them from Russia and China. They do not need to waste the time and effort to buy semi-auto guns, then buy parts, and finally spend the man hours to convert these semi-auto guns to fully automatic machine guns.

Then the Times turns to a quote from National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre and presents his quote without context, an effort that makes his quote seem a bit of a non sequitur.

With billions in profits from illegal drugs, the cartels can easily obtain weapons on the black market in other countries, Mr. LaPierre and many gun dealers argue. “The cartels have the money to get guns wherever they want,” said Charles Fredien, the owner of Chuck’s Gun in Brownsville, Tex., on the border “They have grenades, don’t they? They don’t buy grenades here.” No one knows how large the cross-border trade in arms is. In 2008, the Mexican government seized more than 20,000 weapons from suspected drug dealers.

What the Times neglects to mention is that Mexican drug cartels have been using rocket propelled grenades and other heavy ordnance all of which have come from overseas and NONE of it from the U.S. But, with that fact left out of this Times story, LaPierre’s grenade comment seems odd and off-topic.

And then comes the first contradictory part of the Times’ story. After spending over half the story making American gun shop owners out to be the bad guy, the Times suddenly says that the A.T.F.’s best source of tips and intel actually comes from U.S. gun dealers.

“The dealers are an important source of information to them and very cooperative with the A.T.F.,” Mr. Keane said.

So, which is it, New York Times? Are U.S. gun dealers scofflaws that form a major part of the problem or are they helping law enforcement agencies deal with this mess?

Then the Times gets to “scare” tactics by using a straw man argument to claim that anyone can buy “military style” guns by the dozens without any legal requirements.

At a recent show in Pharr, Tex., another border town, a college freshman with a wispy beard arrived with two AR-15 rifles strapped to his body, spidery black guns designed for combat, tricked out with features that soldiers prize: collapsible stocks, pistol grips, extra long magazines.

The student, who asked to be identified only as Shane, was asking $1,900 for one of his rifles. As for paper work, he wanted only a handwritten receipt with the buyer’s name and address. He was not worried, he said, about the gun’s falling into the hands of drug cartels in Mexico.

This is certainly a straw man that the Times points to as a grave warning of a source for illegal guns in Mexico. Sure there are always a few guys walking around at gun shows trying to sell off parts of their private collections. Sure the paper trail for such sales might be sparse or non-existent. But, so what? These drug cartels are buying weapons by the truck load. Taking the time and personnel to attend random gun shows in the U.S. in the hopes that some guy with a “wispy beard” is going to be walking around selling his privately owned guns is NO reliable source of guns to supply gun hungry drug cartels with!

In the final analysis, this New York Times piece is filled with misconceptions based on misleading, shadowy claims as well as outright lies about what is going on in both Mexico and U.S. gun culture. And it’s all for the singular purpose of denigrating Second Amendment rights in the U.S. and not in informing the public of a real problem in Mexico or any real part the U.S. might play in that problem.

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