November 07, 2022
“Governor Greg Abbott wants to make the border safe for his state but loose gun laws allow cartels to drive to any Texas gun shop and legally stockpile guns, Mexican officials say,” The Guardian “reports.” That presupposes promoting an obvious political agenda with its time-worn lies that ended in disaster the last time they were tried can be considered journalism.
“About 70% of guns seized in Mexico from 2014 to 2018 and submitted for tracing had originally come from the US, according to officials with the American Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF),” the hit piece on gun sales parrots. At least they’ve learned from a decade ago to add the “for tracing” part. Before enough real investigative reporters, generally dismissed as “just bloggers” exposed them on it, the gun-grabbers were intentionally leaving that part out.
A Numbers Game
Case in point, is what was being pushed on the public back in 2009. This was a year-and-a-half before my late colleague, Mike Vanderboegh and I first exposed a connection between ATF allowing guns to be smuggled into Mexico and the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry with guns traceable to U.S. sales found at the crime scene, a deadly fiasco they called “Operation Fast and Furious” within the larger “Project Gunrunner,” and I pegged “Project Gunwalker.” CNN published a Brady Campaign propaganda piece co-authored by their then-president Paul Helmke, and board member, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General, and daughter of Robert F, Kennedy, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
“American gun sellers supply the cartels with 95 to 100 percent of their guns, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” they declared, never mentioning “submitted for tracing.”
As I documented at that time, guns submitted for tracing account for only a small fraction of total guns seized, and how only about a third of those submitted guns came from U.S. dealers. And in a report that factors in government sales and non-civilian ordnance, geopolitical intelligence publisher Stratfor concluded, “[T]he 3,480 guns positively traced to the United States equals less than 12 percent of the total arms seized in Mexico in 2008 and less than 48 percent of all those submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF for tracing. This means that almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico in 2008 were not traced back to the United States.”
Means, Motive and Opportunity
Simultaneous to this, per ABC News, Attorney General Eric Holder was prematurely showing his cards.
"‘As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons,’ Holder told reporters. Holder said that putting the ban back in place would not only be a positive move by the United States, it would help cut down on the flow of guns going across the border into Mexico, which is struggling with heavy violence among drug cartels along the border,” the report argued.
Note the administration and leading Democrats, like Nancy Pelosi, soon decided they did not have the votes to go for another ban so tried to walk back Holder’s trial balloon. But what they were going for then they’re still going for now, and they’re counting on the public’s short memory, and of course, a media that ran cover for them the last time by universally calling ATF’s criminal “Gunwalker” enterprise a “botched gun sting.”
It was more like “salting the mine.” You don’t let guns cross the border, make no attempt to track them and then somehow end up victorious over the cartels. The way things really worked was guns allowed across the border that were recovered next to bodies at crime scenes were reported for tracing back to U.S. sources, and the self-fulfilling “prophecy” was then exploited to gin up outrage over “lax gun laws” and new demands for a ban.
Just like we see happening now.
“Reynosa [is] a Mexican town along the US border which sits just 11 miles away from a Texas gun store where residents and visitors can legally buy guns,” The Guardian makes its case – or dutifully tries to. [NOTE: Foreigners, foreign “visitors”, CANNOT buy guns or ammunition in the USA UNLESS they have permanent residence status. Foreigners CAN purchase and possess ammunition BUT only for bona fide hunting and shooting competition events. They can possess their own firearms IF temporarily imported but only during the specific purpose for which they are in the USA (hunting, competition, shooting, display at trade shows, etc.).]
“We are having a problem with high-caliber military weapons,” the report quotes the town’s mayor, Carlos Peña Ortiz. “We know that most, if not all, of these high-caliber weapons are coming from the United States and a significant amount are likely coming from Texas. The financial incentive to smuggle weapons into Mexico is high and purchasing them in Texas and driving a few miles is too easy.”
The story started out with the presumption of “loose gun laws,” and evidently all that’s need to “prove” that is repeating it. In fact, not only do all sales need to go through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), but there’s another directly applicable requirement the feds enacted after “Gunwalker” being exposed upset their plans to ban semi-autos.
“The Department of Justice announced ... that gun dealers in states along the Southwest border will now have to report multiple sales of certain semi-automatic rifles, a controversial regulation that has been sought for months by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” The Center for Public Integrity reported in 2011. “The rule applies only to semi-automatic rifles greater than .22 caliber and able to accept a detachable magazine, and only to multiple sales of those guns to the same person within a five–day period. Furthermore, the requirement is limited to four border states — Arizona, New Mexico, California and Texas. Federal authorities assert these types of guns are favorites of Mexican drug cartels, and say the cartels are buying them in bulk at U.S. gun stores just over the border. A similar law requiring dealers to report multiple handgun sales nationwide has been in effect for years.” [Federal authorities would say that, because it helps perpetuate the narrative that legal U.S. gun sales are major drivers behind Mexico’s uncontrolled corruption and violence. No doubt some individuals make “straw purchases” on behalf of cartels and others, just as criminals break any other gun laws that they think they can get away with. That’s why they’re criminals, and as usual, the gun-grabbers want us to believe imposing more restrictions on the “law-abiding” will fix things.]
This was at the height of the House Oversight Committee’s investigation into how ATF could actively enable the very thing they said they were trying to prevent. That investigation would lead to Holder being cited for contempt of Congress for withholding information, something he has yet to be held to account for with penalties.
Perhaps if your name is Eric Holder or Lois Lerner, you’re not subject to the same legal consequences for contempt of Congress as you would be if your name was Steve Bannon.
What is ignored is the process whereby Mexican citizens and law enforcement agencies obtain firearms. There are no gun shops in Mexico and therefore many make the error of assuming that there is no gun ownership in Mexico, which is incorrect. There is ONE outlet for retail gun sales and that is the firearms division of Sedena (Secretariat of National Defense), a government-run retail gun business that not only sells to civilians (manually operated hunting long arms, handguns .38 caliber and below (not including 9mm), .22 rimfire rifles in semi-auto are permitted), but law enforcement as well. What these reports fail to include is that Mexican police departments put in orders for AR-15s, and other firearms, and that these firearms are finding their way on ATF reports as “cartel weapons of US origin”. What these reports omit is that many of these AR-15s, and other firearms, were ordered by Mexican police departments and after the department took possession of the firearms, some became “lost” or “stolen”. It is not a secret that the cartels “own: many police departments and that the police officials are also on their payroll. It appears that the cartels are ordering firearms through their friends at Mexican police departments.
Did someone say ‘military’?
Peña Ortiz did. Every gun-grabber railing against “weapons of war” trying to use Mexico’s corruption and lawlessness as an excuse to disarm Americans does. Since we know you can’t just walk into an FFL and walk out after a NICS check with actual military-grade weaponry, perhaps we should explore how the cartels have arsenals full, including belt-fed machineguns and grenades.
“Do U.S. government arms exports play a part in arming Mexican cartels?” I asked in 2009, before we’d ever heard of “Project Gunwalker.”
“[W]e are learning that many arms in the hands of Mexican drug cartels are military-grade automatic weapons, and that the numbers of cartel arms sourcing from the US civilian market are highly exaggerated,” I noted, citing the Small Arms Survey (SAS; Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva 2006). “What is being ignored is the fact that the United States government (via Departments of Defense and State) sells thousands of military and non-military firearms to foreign governments, including Mexico and Central and South American countries.”
“Many of these governments are notoriously corrupt and unstable. Moreover, we know that individuals in the Mexican police and military have ties to the drug cartels. It is highly reasonable, if not probable, that many of these weapons (and those sold to these nations in previous years), have now made their way onto the black market and thereby being funneled into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels,” the analysis elaborated. “If traced by the BATFE, any of the firearms above would return as ‘originating in the US.’ Origination in the US clearly does not equate to an origination in the lawful US civilian market. Is it possible that the Mexican government is not making the majority of seized weapons available for BATFE tracing in order to cover corruption?”
And the guns don’t just “flow” from the north.
“Ordnance crossing into Mexico over border—its southern one,” I reported in 2011, citing reports about Guatemalan operations set up by the Los Zetas cartel (former law enforcement/military shock troops for the Gulf cartel who decided they could run things for themselves).
“Mexico… is also flooded with hand grenades. From what I am told, some of the grenade stockpiles are coming up from leftover military depots in Central America from the 1980s,” a report I quoted from McClatchy News stated. “Some have been taken/bought/stolen from the Mexican army itself.”
Damned “loose U.S. gun laws”...
“One of the Mexican federal government’s responses to that flow of weapons has been to sue US gun dealers and manufacturers,” The Guardian continues. “A US federal judge dismissed one of those lawsuits targeting manufacturers, but then the Mexican government immediately filed one targeting dealers, though the ones named in that case – at least so far – are based in Arizona.”
And Brady United fingerprints are all over that action, even though the group has strategically distanced itself from the legal action, as John Richardson of the No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money blog has documented.
“Jonathan Lowy and Brady United have parted ways. Lowy was formerly the Chief Counsel and VP Legal for Brady United,” Richardson reports. “He headed their Legal Action Project and had been an attorney with them in various capacities for 25 years. Lowy’s biography has been removed from the Brady Legal section and no mention is made of him in their history section.”
“The lawsuit filed Monday by the Government of Mexico against five Arizona gun stores was what tipped me to the change,” Richardson explains. “Lowy was listed under attorneys representing Mexico in this lawsuit... Unlike past lawsuits in which he was listed as being part of Brady, this lawsuit has his affiliation listed as the new Global Action on Gun Violence.”
Also part of the action: “Dennis Henigan who was the former Chief Counsel and one-time Acting President at Brady... Elizabeth Burke, COO, who was an attorney with Brady[who] often served as co-counsel with Lowy on lawsuits brought by Brady.”
The apparent reason for the separation?
“Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Lowy and his new organization had to register with the US Department of Justice as foreign agents representing Mexico,” Richardson noted, following up in a later post observing “Brady United COO Susan Lavington said they were reluctant to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”
Where the lawsuit will go and how the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act will factor into the outcome are still to unfold. The thing is, when you’re a legal group bankrolled by shadowy elites, you can still do much damage as the recent $73 million Remington insurers’ settlement with Sandy Hook families makes plain to see.
Is it just me, or does it seem distinctly un-American for U.S. citizens registered as foreign agents to represent a demonstrably corrupt Mexican government in undermining “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” which the Framers of the Constitution considered “necessary to the security of a free State”?
The Obvious Solution
Unfortunately, or more likely as planned, the answer to keeping U.S. arms from being smuggled across the border into Mexico is something those screaming the loudest for citizen disarmament and against an uncontrolled northward flow of drugs and illegal aliens don’t want to hear about: Control the damn border.
Corrupt Mexican government officials and their cartel partners don’t want to hear about it because it’s so profitable. Corrupt U.S. government officials don’t want to hear about it because it’s so lucrative, as well as a source of cheap labor for Republican interests and future votes for “pathway to citizenship” Democrats.
As this article is being written, the Biden administration is preparing a challenge to the state of Arizona for filling in unfinished border wall gaps with shipping containers. The central powers will not tolerate any local interference. We are seeing unfold before our eyes the existential threat of “enemies foreign and domestic.”
And they want our guns.
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About the Author
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. In addition to being a regular featured contributor for Firearms News he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.