We all know the only tactic the anti-gunners really have to advance their agenda: exploit any crisis. Anti-gun groups and politicians have been using this tactic for over 50 years—and all too often, it’s worked.
That is why the crisis of violence in Mexico has been such a boon to anti-gun politicians. If they can convince the American people that violence in Mexico is not only a threat to our personal safety, but is a result of our Second Amendment freedoms, they just might build the support they need to move ahead.
That’s why when Mexico’s drug war heated up, so did the calls for new U.S. gun laws. We heard demands to pass a new semi-auto ban, to regulate guns shows, and to impose new reporting of gun sales to the federal government. About the only thing the anti-gun groups did not call for was a real effort to actually secure our border.
There was just one problem. The American people didn’t buy it. There was no surge of support for new gun laws, and the 2010 election saw hundreds of new pro-gun legislators elected all across the country.
So, what to do? We all know what Eric Holder’s Justice Department did: It set up the “Fast and Furious” program that let thousands of guns be illegally trafficked to the cartels. The administration hoped this would lead to greater support for new gun laws. Instead, it led to deaths and injuries on both sides of the border and the senseless loss of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
But even as this scandal grows larger and Eric Holder’s efforts to hide the truth continue—as this is being written, the House of Representatives is considering a contempt of Congress citation for Holder for his refusal to cooperate with their investigation into Fast & Furious—the misinformation machine marches forward.
In late April, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released a report on firearms traces completed at the request of the Mexican government between 2007 and 2011.
The report was immediately used by the usual suspects to clamor for more gun laws. For example, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) again called for increased multiple sales reporting, regulating gun shows, banning semi-auto imports and reinstating the semi-auto ban.
But again, there is just one problem. The report is at best incomplete, and at worst, purposely misleading. Here are a few facts about the guns traced:
• Gun ban activists were quick to note that 70 percent of the guns traced came from U.S. sources. But guns are only traced when requested by Mexico, and Mexican officials are trained not to request traces on guns that do not have U.S. manufacture or import markings.
• The report does not distinguish between stolen guns, guns sold to foreign governments with State Department approval, or even the thousands of guns Fast & Furious allowed to flow across the border.
• The average gun traced at the Mexicans’ request was first sold in the U.S. more than 15 years before being traced. That point wasn’t mentioned in the BATFE report, but was revealed in BATFE documents during legal challenges to the scheme for requiring dealers in the border states to report certain multiple rifle sales.
But none of these facts have stopped the BATFE, anti-gun groups and anti-gun politicians from repeating the “70 percent” number as if it represents every gun the cartels possess.
Given all those flaws, what was the real purpose of this report? Look no farther than the congressional calendar. The report came out the same day the U.S. House appropriations committee, by a 30-19 vote, passed an amendment by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) that would block federal funding for the rifle sales registration scheme. Fortunately, common sense prevailed on the committee—as it should wherever honest people fairly look at the truth, rather than at anti-gun spin.
Chris W. Cox is the Executive Director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action and serves as the organization’s chief lobbyist. Please give your support to NRA-ILA today by going to www.NRAILA.org/donate.