Back in the day Obama and his chorus used to claim that 90% of crime guns recovered in Mexico were traced back to the US, which clearly signaled a need for stricter gun control here.
Of course, Obama is more verbally than numerically oriented so his stats were widely debunked. The gist - Mexico recovers many, many crime guns, submits likely candidates (such as those with serial numbers that aren't obvious Bulgarian Army surplus) to the BATF, and gets a trace result on that subset. From FactCheck, updated 3/13/2010:
But is it true, as President Obama said, that "[m]ore than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States?" Government statistics don't actually support that claim.
The figure represents only the percentage of crime guns that have been submitted by Mexican officials and traced by U.S. officials. We can find no hard data on the total number of guns actually "recovered in Mexico," but U.S. and Mexican officials both say that Mexico recovers more guns than it submits for tracing. Therefore, the percentage of guns "recovered" that are traced to U.S. sources necessarily is less than 90 percent. Where do the others come from? U.S. officials can't say.
And Mexico recovers a lot more guns than it submits to the U.S. In December 2008, Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora put the number of recovered crime weapons in the country over the past two years at nearly 29,000, according to USA Today. And figures given by ATF make clear that the agency doesn't trace nearly all of those.
According to ATF, Mexico submitted 7,743 firearms for tracing in fiscal year 2008 (which ended Oct. 1) and 3,312 guns in fiscal 2007. That adds up to a fraction of the two-year total given by Mexico's attorney general.
11,000 crime guns were submitted to the BATF for tracing in that time period, which is roughly 30% of the 29,000 revovered.
Are things that different today? Pending booth review, the judge's ruling is that the new CFR 'stats' are as phony as the old ones.
FWIW: This April 2013 report from the Wilson Center doesn't seem to have relevant e-trace data past 2011. They say this about Mexico:
Based on the most recently available data, ATF determined that 68,000 U.S.-origin firearms were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico from 2007 to 2011.60 Despite the strong past cooperation between U.S. and Mexican authorities on firearms tracing, the new Mexican administration has been slow to submit firearm trace requests to ATF. While this may simply be the result of new leadership personnel familiarizing themselves with ongoing government projects, U.S. officials have indicated that they have seen a worrisome lack of action on tracing and other law enforcement matters related to firearms trafficking.
And here is an interesting factoid from Guatemala, a country contributing to our border crisis, as mentioned in the NY Times letter, but not discussed in the CFR report:
Based largely on an ATF examination of just one Guatemalan military bunker with firearms recovered from FY 2006 to FY 2009, ATF determined that 2,687 of the 6,000 firearms (40 percent) had a nexus with the United States...
40, 70, 90, whatever.
GHASTLY: More from FactCheck:
The 90 percent figure was similarly cited by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) during a March 17 congressional hearing on the subject. Durbin said: "According to ATF [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives], more than 90 percent of the guns seized after raids or shootings in Mexico have been traced right here to the United States of America." Feinstein added: "It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico used to shoot judges, police officers, mayors, kidnap innocent people and do terrible things come from the United States, and I think we must put a stop to that."
And it's been reported by a phalanx of news organizations, including the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times, NBC and the Chicago Tribune, that 90 percent of Mexico's recovered guns come from the U.S.
Mexican authorities have made the same error: On CBS' "Face the Nation" on April 12, Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said: "Ninety percent of all weapons we are seizing in Mexico, Bob, are coming from across the United States."
Most who have used the statistic attribute it to ATF. Others attribute the figure to officials within the Mexican government. But that's not correct.