Mexican Gun Traffickers
Easily Obtain Military-Style Weapons from U.S. Civilian Gun Market, New
Analysis of Federal Criminal Court Records Confirms
of Guns Obtained by Traffickers in Cases Studied Were Semiautomatic Assault
Weapons, Armor-Piercing Handguns, or 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles
court records from southwestern states clearly show that illegal gun traffickers
involved in smuggling firearms to Mexico seek semiautomatic assault weapons,
armor-piercing handguns, and 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifles from
U.S. gun shops according to a new report released today by the Violence
Policy Center (VPC). For its investigation, the VPC obtained records filed
in 21 federal firearms smuggling prosecutions in Arizona, California,
Nevada, and Texas between February 2006 and February 2009. For a copy
of the VPC investigation, Indicted: Types of Firearms and Methods of
Gun Trafficking from the United States to Mexico as Revealed in U.S. Court
Documents, please see http://www.vpc.org/studies/indicted.pdf.
we examined make absolutely clear that Mexican gun traffickers are seeking
out military-style weapons easily obtained on the U.S. civilian gun market,"
said VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand, the study's author. "Many
of these guns are imported assault rifles and armor-piercing handguns,
underscoring the urgent need for the Obama administration to use its executive
powers to strictly enforce existing restrictions on the import of such
non-sporting weapons and then begin working with Congress to enact an
effective federal assault weapons ban."
In addition to detailed
analysis of the more than 500 firearms listed in the smuggling cases reviewed,
the report contains excerpts from records that detail the methods by which
traffickers exploit weak federal laws in the U.S. to buy guns for Mexican
criminals. Among other findings in the report:
- Traffickers seek
out semiautomatic assault weapons (42 percent of guns named), armor-piercing
handguns (18 percent), and 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifles (two
- More than 90 percent
of the 226 rifles named could be identified as semiautomatic assault
rifles, primarily AK-47 and AR-15 variants.
- More than one-third
of the guns obtained by traffickers were made by foreign manufacturers.
- At least 70,000
rounds of ammunition were directly involved in the cases.
Rand stated that the
federal court records thoroughly refute National Rifle Association Executive
Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s recent false claim that the Mexican cartels
do not "trifle with paperwork at U.S. gun stores."
"The NRA has
received a free ride with its undocumented assertions," Rand said.
"Now, for the first time, the American people can see detailed information
on the types of military-style firearms illegal traffickers are buying
in the United States and shipping to Mexican criminals. This is merely
a snapshot of the kind of detailed information about tens of thousands
of smuggled guns that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms,
and Explosives has in its files but no longer releases to the public or
our elected representatives on Capitol Hill."
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x110