Political Correction

Gun Lobby Distortion On U.S. Guns In Mexico Falls Apart

July 27, 2011 9:45 am ET - by Chris Brown

Sen. Chuck Grassley

Last month, Political Correction reported on Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) misleading use of a State Department cable to write a memo that suggested the United States was not a large source of guns for the Mexican cartels, when in fact the cable said the exact opposite.

In the same memo, Grassley asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) a series of questions about sources of guns found in Mexico. The San Francisco Chronicle obtained a copy of the response Grassley received that shows hardly any of the guns submitted by the Mexican government were traced to any country other than the United States.

Previously, the ATF reported in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that 20,504 guns submitted for tracing by the Mexican government were U.S.-sourced firearms — roughly 70% of the 29,284 firearms submitted for tracing.

In response, Grassley assailed the ATF in his memo, repeatedly suggesting that South American countries were the source of many of those firearms. The Chronicle notes that "the claim that Mexican cartels rely on huge stocks of military surplus weaponry from civil wars in Central America is the mantra of pro-gun organizations."

Here are the four questions from Grassley's memo about the foreign sources of guns found in Mexico 2009 and 2010:

How many can be traced to the military of Guatemala?  How many can be traced to the military of Honduras?  How many can be traced to the military of El Salvador?  How many can be traced to other Central American and South American militaries?

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting the answer Grassley got back was: 346. Roughly 1% of crime guns submitted by Mexico to be traced "were traced to any other nation besides the United States."

Not surprisingly, Grassley hasn't released the answer he got from the ATF.

UPDATE: A copy of the letter from the ATF to Grassley can be seen here, and a copy of Grassley's original letter to the ATF can be seen here.

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