April 15, 2009 5:37PM

Gun Control for the Sake of Mexico: The Meme That Wouldn’t Die

Fox News already debunked the claim that 90% of the guns involved in Mexico’s drug war come from the United States. Facts aside, the press onslaught continues in a new push for gun control.

The fact is that out of 29,000 firearms picked up in Mexico over the last two‐​year period for which data is available, 5,114 of the 6,000 traced guns came from the United States. While that is 90% of traced guns, it means that only 17% of recovered guns come from the United States civilian market.

Where did the rest come from? A number of places. To begin with, over 150,000 Mexican soldiers have deserted in the last six years for the better pay and benefits of cartel life, some taking their issued M-16 rifles with them.

Surprisingly, a significant number of the arms are coming to the cartels via legitimate transactions. They are produced and exported legally every year, regulated by the State Department as Direct Commercial Sales. FY 2007 figures for the full exports are available here, and State’s report on end‐​use is available here, alleging widespread fraud and use of front companies to funnel the weapons into the black market. (H/T to Narcosphere) This doesn’t even take into account the thousands of weapons floating around Latin America from previous wars of liberation. This Los Angeles Times article also shows how the cartels are getting hand grenades, rocket launchers, and other devices you can’t pick up at your local sporting goods store.

Perhaps this is why law enforcement officials did not ask for new gun laws to combat Mexican drug violence at recent hearings in front of Congress.

Never mind those pesky facts. The story at the New York Times recycles the 90% claim. The associated video is just as bad. Narrator: “The weapons that are arming the drug war in Juarez are illegal to purchase and possess in Mexico.” They’re also illegal in the United States. As the narrator says these words, the Mexican officer is handling an M-16 variant with a barrel less than sixteen inches long. This rifle would be illegal to possess in the United States without prior approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE). As the video mentions the expired “Assault” Weapons Ban, the submachine gun in frame would also be classified as a short‐​barreled rifle and require BATFE approval. Ditto for many of the rifles shown in the video. The restrictions on barrel length would not apply to weapons exported as Direct Commercial Sales. Law enforcement folks call this a “clue.”

The language of gun control advocates is changing subtly to demonize “military style” weapons. “Military style” weapons is a new and undefined term that means either (1) automatic weapons, short barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns, and destructive devices already heavily regulated by federal law; or (2) a term inclusive of all modern firearms in a back‐​door attempt to enact a new gun control scheme.

Yes, ALL modern firearms. Grandpa’s hunting rifle? Basis for the system used by military snipers. The pump‐​action shotgun you use to hunt ducks and quail? Basis for the modular shotgun produced for the military. The handgun you bought for self‐​defense, a constitutionally protected right? Used by every modern military.

This is not a new tactic. The Violence Policy Center has previously tried to fool people by portraying ordinary rifles as machine guns with the term “assault” weapons: “The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi‐​automatic assault weapons‐​anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun‐​can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.”

Making our domestic policies based on the preferences of other countries is unacceptable, especially in an activity protected by the Constitution. One of Canada’s Human Rights Commissioners is on record saying that “[f]reedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.” (Apparently, it makes the folks at the Department of Homeland Security nervous too) In a similar vein, the United Nations says “[w]e especially encourage the debate on the issue of reinstating the 1994 U.S. ban on assault rifles that expired in 2004.”

It’s not theirs to say, and we shouldn’t listen to an argument based on lies. Related posts here and here.