The Truth About Mexican Crime Guns
The often repeated statistic that 90% to 95% of guns seized in Mexico are traced back to the U.S. is an outrageous distortion. The actual statistic is more like 17% and even that might be exaggerated.
For several years The Firearms Coalition has been closely monitoring the situation on the U.S. – Mexico border as it relates to firearms. Our good friend Landis Aden of the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association has provided a steady stream of news stories from Arizona and Mexico along with other useful information and blaming the U.S. for Mexico’s crime problems is nothing new. What is a fairly recent development is the claim by U.S. and Mexican officials and media that 90% to 95% of crime guns traced from Mexico originally come from the U.S. Anyone who knows anything about guns has been suspicious of that claim from the beginning because the guns described in the news stories are very often full-auto military weapons, rocket propelled grenades, and such; weapons which are clearly not available at your local gun shop in Phoenix or El Paso.
The answer to the conflicting reports comes – as it often does in firearms related statistics – in the specific terms in which the statistics are couched. It is true that about 90% of firearms traced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives originate in the U.S. but what is left out of that statement is the fact that fewer than half of the guns involved in crime in Mexico are ever traced by the ATF. Mexican authorities only submit guns to ATF when they believe the guns originated in the U.S. When all of the guns are included it turns out that some 83% of guns involved in crime in Mexico come from sources other than the U.S.
So the correct statistic is that about 17% of guns seized by police in Mexico are traced back to U.S. sources – and those doubtlessly include many guns legally sold to the Mexican government over the years and guns acquired by Mexican citizens for self-defense in the face of rampant crime in that country.
Rights activists are encouraged to send copies of this story to any reporter or news outlet they see repeating the 90% lie and to send copies to their elected officials demanding that government officials stop misrepresenting the facts.