Gun Trafficking Hearing Sheds Light On Mexican Cartel Weapons of Choice

July 06, 2011 2:34 pm ET — Chris Brown

One issue that has been particularly sensitive to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and NRA-friendly members of Congress is the gun industry's increasing focus on promoting militarized weapons, many of which are the weapons of choice for Mexican drug cartels. Last January, Media Matters documented the gun industry's focus on increased lethality during a visit to the industry expo SHOT Show.

At a hearing on gun trafficking put together by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Violence Policy Center legislative director Kristen Rand testified about the gun industry's focus on militarized weapons and research on the popularity of these weapons with Mexican cartels.

Rand's testimony focused on three categories of weapons favored by Mexican cartels:

Guns that are identical to military weapons

FN Five-seveN

FN Five-seveN. Referred to as mata policia ("cop killer") because it's body armor piercing capability using certain ammunition

Semiautomatic variants of military weapons


Popular and low cost AK variant GP WASR 10

Pistol versions of assault rifles

AK Pistol

Romanian Draco AK-47 pistol

See below the fold for information on the uses of these weapons of choice.

Video courtesy of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

High-powered assault rifles confiscated by Mexican soldiers

Assault rifles confiscated by Mexican soldiers in June 2009

From Rand's written testimony:

Guns that are identical to those used by the Armed Forces of the United States and other countries. These firearms include such sophisticated weapons as the Barrett 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifle and the FN Herstal Five-seveN 5.7mm pistol. The Barrett 50 caliber sniper rifle (below) is specifically designed to engage and destroy materiel targets on the battlefield at long range. These anti-armor rifles combine range and striking power that is far beyond that of any hunting rifle. Armored personnel carriers, aircraft, rail tank cars, bulk fuel storage, and concrete bunkers are vulnerable to 50 caliber rifle fire at distances of 1,000 to 2,000 yards.

Variants of military firearms that would otherwise be illegal to sell on the civilian market. These are principally semiautomatic versions of military assault weapons. They include: many variants of the AR-15 (the civilian version of the U.S. military M-16 assault rifle); numerous semiautomatic
versions of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, popularly known as the AK-47; and, the FN PS90, a futuristic-looking rifle in a bullpup configuration. Assault weapons are favored by traffickers because they incorporate specific design characteristics that make them more lethal-that is, more effective killing machines-than standard sporting firearms. [...]

Pistol versions of popular assault rifles.
Relatively new on the market, these guns combine the firepower of a rifle with the concealability of a handgun.

AK variants are even sold at discounts for bulk purchasers.

AK 47 Ad

Shotgun News ad for Arizona-based J&G sales.

Commercial pictures from written testimony of Kristen Rand prepared by the Violence Policy Center.