In a story breathlessly headlined, “Mexican Crime, American Guns”, they talk about a “shocking new report” that has been obtained by ABC News. They “obtained” the report from Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns. You can “obtain” it, too on the MAIG website here.
The study, based on Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) data and prepared by the advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, shows that three out of four guns used in crimes in Mexico and submitted for tracing were sold in the four U.S. states that border Mexico. (emphasis mine)
The key in all of this data is just which guns are submitted for tracing. The Mexican government is not going to submit the M-16s stolen or sold to drug cartels by the Mexican Army for tracing. This would show that the weapons were originally sold to Mexico under the Foreign Military Sales program. They are not going to submit the AK-47s that the cartels obtain from countries such as Venezuela as that would obscure the story that they are trying to promote. So while the average American is led to believe it is AR-15s and AK-47s submitted for tracing, it is more likely an old H&R Topper single shot 12 gauge that has been cut down.
When you use as the basis of your story a report that is entitled by the gun control organization’s authors as an “issue brief”, you are just as complicit in pushing an agenda as the gun control organization.
A couple of notes on the report itself. First, by using export rates, MAIG can skew the data to make it look like California with their restrictive gun laws is less of a problem than other border states with more relaxed laws. In reality, in 2009, more guns were traced to California than to Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida combined. Using “export rates”, they list Arizona as the “worst” state and California comes in at number five instead of number two.
Second, the efforts by Bloomberg and his allies to weaken the Tiarht Amendment are what allowed ATF to provide this information to MAIG.
The data analyzed in this report was provided by ATF to Mayors Against Illegal Guns on March 4, 2010. Until 2007, this data was not available because Congress had implemented restrictions, known as the “Tiahrt Amendments,” which prohibited ATF from releasing crime gun trace data. However, in 2007 and 2009, after national campaigns by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and over 30 police organizations, Congress relaxed these restrictions on sharing crime gun trace data. Although there are still significant restrictions on the use of ATF crime gun trace data, the recent reforms allowed ATF to provide the data set that is the basis for this report to Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Providing aggregate level data is one thing. However, this reports shows that individual level data still needs protection from fishing expeditions by Bloomberg and his allies. With Todd Tiarht leaving Congress at the end of this term, we will need to be wary of attempts to weaken the Tiarht Amendment further.