February 17, 2011

Guns And Crime, Part II

Mexico's Only Gun Store

There is but a single, solitary gun shop authorized to exist in all of Mexico. It is the Army's Directorate of Arms and Munitions Sales located in Mexico City; this shop sells about 7,000 guns per year. Handgun sales to civilians are limited to .38 caliber and below but most purchases are for .22 cal. It is next to impossible to get a permit for a .357, .40 or .45 handgun.

In addition to a single retail outlet, Mexico's gun laws are very similar to those of Great Britain, among the most restrictive in the world.

If this is so, then why does Mexico have a murder rate almost three times greater than the US?

Murders per 100,000 population
Mexico .......... 13.02
USA ............... 4.28

Mexico blames the US and so does the Obama administration. In 2009 the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued an 83 page report which was widely proclaimed to prove that 87% of firearms confiscated by Mexican authorities were purchased in the United States.

This report was patently false and, I believe, deliberately misleading. The following is an analysis of the GAO report by Scott Stewart of STRATFOR.

According to the GAO report, some 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals by Mexican authorities in 2008. Of these 30,000 firearms, information pertaining to 7,200 of them (24 percent) was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for tracing. Of these 7,200 guns, only about 4,000 could be traced by the ATF, and of these 4,000, some 3,480 (87 percent) were shown to have come from the United States.

This means that the 87 percent figure relates to the number of weapons submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF that could be successfully traced and not from the total number of weapons seized by Mexican authorities or even from the total number of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing. In fact, the 3,480 guns positively traced to the United States equals less than 12 percent of the total arms seized in Mexico in 2008 and less than 48 percent of all those submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF for tracing. This means that almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico in 2008 were not traced back to the United States.

[...] Of course, some or even many of the 22,800 firearms the Mexicans did not submit to ATF for tracing may have originated in the United States. But according to the figures presented by the GAO, there is no evidence to support the assertion that 90 percent of the guns used by the Mexican cartels come from the United States — especially when not even 50 percent of those that were submitted for tracing were ultimately found to be of U.S. origin.

The following summary is very important.

To really understand Mexico’s gun problem, however, it is necessary to recognize that the same economic law of supply and demand that fuels drug smuggling into the United States also fuels gun smuggling into Mexico. Black market guns in Mexico can fetch up to 300 percent of their normal purchase price — a profit margin rivaling the narcotics the cartels sell. Even if it were somehow possible to hermetically seal the U.S.-Mexico border and shut off all the guns coming from the United States, the cartels would still be able to obtain weapons elsewhere — just as narcotics would continue to flow into the United States from other places. The United States does provide cheap and easy access to certain types of weapons and ammunition, but as demonstrated by groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, weapons can be easily obtained from other sources via the black arms market — albeit at a higher price.

There has clearly been a long and well-documented history of arms smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border, but it is important to recognize that, while the United States is a significant source of certain classes of weapons and ammunition, it is by no means the source of 90 percent of the weapons used by the Mexican cartels, as is commonly asserted.

But we're not done with this mess. Federal law enforcement agencies muddy the waters with "sting" operations that in some cases are the case of mini-crime waves. Federal dollars become available for local law enforcement to purchase stolen goods through false storefront operations and the local hoods go into a thieving frenzy; or worse. We'll discuss this tomorrow.

"Mexico's Gun Supply and the 90 Percent Myth" is republished with permission of STRATFOR. STRATFOR is an excellent source of global intelligence with over two million readers.

H/T to Charley.


LL said...

As one who spends time in Mexico:

Bolt and lever action rifle permits are very easy to obtain and as stated, pistol calibers .38 and under are easily permitted. Anything over .38 (traditionally .45) was considered to be a military weapon so was difficult to be permitted. It's not all that difficult to obtain a legal permit for a .45 these days - though most criminals don't get a permit. The same is true for automatic weapons.

A lot of the 'US Weapons' come from the arsenals of third world countries -- where the narcos simply bought them. So they were sold from the US lawfully with end-user certificates that were violated by the purchasing countries.

Anonymous said...

Our small rural community (and its healthy pot-growing subculture) seems to have easy access to every level of illegal firearms. But I am excluded from all manner of practical self-defense handguns thanks to California's arbitrary list of approved firearms.

Guess which route I'll follow.

Toaster 802 said...

I am not sure if the Goomba Nation is aware of this story...

Follow the links to the patriots who have blown this story wide open. Pass the word and rally the troops.

The truth is out there. And it is ugly...

sig94 said...

LL - It's the "greasing palms" solution to gun control. Again, how easy is it to legally purchase a gun if there is only one store to service over 100,000,000 people? From the NPR of all places:

"Mexican Army Lt. Col. Raul Manzano Velez runs the shop. He explains that ordinary citizens can buy only one handgun. It must stay inside the home where it's registered and it can't be larger than a .38 special.

"They can buy a .22-caliber pistol or revolver up to a .38 special," he says. "It's very limited in Mexico the models available in these calibers."

Hunting and sport rifles can be transported, but they are also heavily regulated.

Javier Manuel Irineo, who is looking through the cabinet glass at some .22-caliber rifles, is a fairly typical customer. He is a farmer and wants a gun to protect his fields.

"I want something to shoot the animals that have been eating my corn," he says.

He says he thinks the regulations in Mexico are reasonable.

To buy a gun in Mexico you first have to fill out some forms. Then your employer has to fill out some forms. And all these forms have to get sent to the army, which decides whether you are eligible to have a gun.

Manzano says if there are no problems, an application can be processed in about a week. But to pick up the firearm, the buyer has to come to this shop in the capital.

"At the moment they come into the shop we take their fingerprints and enter all their information into an electronic database," he says.

Even someone near the U.S. border would have to travel here in person to legally buy a weapon. From Tijuana that would be a two-day bus trip — in each direction.

Manzano says only 7,000 to 8,000 weapons are sold legally in Mexico each year and that includes sales to private security firms."

sig94 said...

Nickie - In California, the only people who seem to have no problem getting the firearm of their choice are criminals and illegals (not that there's much of a difference).

Any day I expect DEA Huey gunships to start spraying Agent Orange throughout the state. I hear it smells similar to victory with a hint of bacon.

sig94 said...

Toast - that's the next installment due out tomorrow. Thanks for the heads up, I'll update it.