Nearly 70 percent of all guns found in Mexico came from the U.S. over the past four years, according to data released by the federal government on Thursday.
More than 68,000 of the 99,691 firearms that were recovered between 2007 and 2011, and submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for trace testing, were either made in the U.S. or legally brought into the U.S. at one point, according to the agency.
Both gun-rights supporters and opponents have used the ATF’s numbers in years past to argue for their cause.
Gun-rights advocates say the numbers do not accurately reflect the true number of guns found in Mexico, which they argue is much higher. But instead, the ATF's data reflect only the number of guns that were submitted for traces. Some gun advocates in the U.S. have argued further that Democrats try to use the inflated numbers to make their case for stricter gun laws.
We surely do. Last November we wrote this in commenting on the latest ATF estimate of 70% of guns, etc:
So Ms. Feinstein made the point that among guns that were both recovered and submitted for tracing, roughly 70% came from the US. This distinction had been kicked around back when Democrats (such as Obama or Ms. Feinstein) were claiming that 90% of recovered guns in Mexico were traced back to the US. Back in reality, it turned out that plenty of guns recovered in Mexico were never submitted for tracing (FactCheck), so the 90% figure was probably closer to 34%, or maybe 17%.
I also cited this Dept. of Justice OIG report from Nov. 2010:
The number of trace requests from Mexico has increased since FY 2006, but most seized guns are not traced.
Mexican crime gun trace requests to ATF have increased since Project Gunrunner was established. The number of traces of Mexican crime guns increased from 5,834 in FY 2004 to almost 22,000 in FY 2009.
Yet, in a June 2009 report, the GAO estimated that less than a quarter of crime guns transferred to the Mexican Attorney General’s office in 2008 were submitted to ATF for tracing.
This latest report will be subject to the same objections and data limitations. That said, the old objections may need updating because the ATF got an expanded data set from Mexico to revise their 2007-2009 data:
This is one of the zombie lies of the Obama Administration. I am highly confident the Times will present it without criticism or nuance, as they did last fall. Let's see...
MOVING BACK ONE TRENCH: I just can't find reliable numbers for total guns recovered by the Mexican authorities relative to the number submitted for tracing. But let's grant Sen. Feinstein her dream and assume that the ATF is checking every gun recovered in Mexico - what are the policy implications for US gun control?
Surely that depends on whether the Mexican cartels have access to other sources of weaponry at comparable prices and volumes (and where do they get their hand grenades?)
To illustrate the obvious, I will estimate that 90% of the food my family eats at home comes from a supermarket a mile away. If that supermarket goes out of business, will my family starve? Hardly - there are a number of shopping alternatives within two or three miles. The world will lose two or three minutes of right-wing blogging while I expand my carbon footprint but nothing else will change.
Politically there might be some benefit to showing Mexico we are trying to help, but my guess is that even incredibly strict US gun control would do virtually nothing to disarm the cartels and merely be an ineffective feel-good measure. In other words, perfect for the Dems.