Last November, law enforcement in Reynosa, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande from Hidalgo, Texas, made this astonishing find: "500,000 rounds of ammunition, 300 assault rifles — mainly [AK-47s] and [AR-15s] — two grenade launchers, and 287 grenades," says Victor Trevino, the Mexican consul in Brownsville, Texas. "That's just in a single seizure."
None of these weapons has been traced yet. But a report released last month by the Government Accountability Office, based on traces done by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on crime guns recovered in Mexico in 2008, states that nearly 90 percent originated in the U.S. The report acknowledges the data are incomplete because Mexico doesn't submit all its confiscated weapons for electronic tracing.
I thought everybody was in agreement that the 90% figure is so high we shouldn't use it, even with that little qualifier about acknowledging "the data are incomplete." Maybe no one told the NPR folks.
The thrust of the article is that gun laws are so lax in America that it's very difficult for the ATF to do their job. Additional resources have been allocated to the border towns. Officials have created "gun-runner" task forces in Houston and south Texas dedicated to firearms trafficking.
We typically will see a straw purchaser go from gun shop to gun shop on the same day and be paid $50 a gun sometimes, buy 10 different guns, make $500 in one day," says Dewey Webb, the special agent in charge of the ATF field office in Houston.
Relaxed reporting requirements for arms purchases make it difficult for his agents. For instance, if you buy two handguns within five days, the dealer must report it to the ATF. But you can buy all the rifles you want, and the dealer doesn't have to report it.
Now, how does that work exactly? Can a person really go from shop to shop, submit to a background check in each one, and not raise any suspicion? How would a gun dealer know if his customer had bought other handguns earlier that day from other dealers? How is it different in Texas than, say, New Jersey? How do the Jersey gun dealers determine if a person is trying to violate the one-gun-a-month law, especially if that customer is shopping in different gun shops?
The idea that in the U.S. there are lax, sloppy and inconsistent gun laws, to me, is not in doubt, and this is at the heart of the matter. The only baffling part of the story is the closing remark where the author comments on Obama's reluctance.
Mexico has asked the U.S. not just to pursue gun traffickers on the border, but change the laws. But so far, the Obama administration has shown little interest in taking on the gun lobby.
What's your opinion? Is the Omama administration biding their time and still planning on keeping some of those campaign promises, you know the ones that sent the entire pro-gun world into a panic of buying guns last year? Or do you think since taking office the new President has realized this is a battle he cannot win and attempting to do so would be too costly?
What's your opinion?