Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Expensive and dangerous toys

Can machine guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers found in Mexico come from the U.S.? It's possible, given the fact that they are sold here and quite a few are owned here. Many U.S. guns find their way across the Mexican border. I found several pretty interesting websites that sell these weapons- here in our country. This company is just one of them. And here is what one of the guns for sale will do for its' owner: "The optional quadrant sight can be installed on the left side of the M16A1/A2 carrying handle,and it allows aiming at the ranges of up to 400 meters. " That's 3 blocks. What could you want to shoot or be able to accurately shoot 3 blocks away? I'm just asking. 

There are a lot of dealers that sell machine guns actually. One is this one. And this dealer specifically states that the machine gun will be sent to a federally licensed dealer for the buyer to pick it up and fill out all necessary paperwork. I assume that all dealers of machine guns must do that. If you check out this site you will see some answers to why people own machine guns. I really like this one the best:" We have to be able to offer a threat to any all that would enslave us including our own government. I have heard the reason other countries are reluctant to attack our country is because of this threat. The citizens are armed." Whatever.

There can be some confusion as to the use of and name of automatic type machine guns. "... indeed, a true machine gun is essentially a fully automatic rifle, and the boundaries between the two are often blurred. " Machine guns are legal to own in the U.S. but come with a high price tag and much paper work. Nonetheless, quite a few people own them. I couldn't find a good place to find out how many legally owned machine guns are in the hands of U.S. gun owners. This site seemed to be agreeing that there are close to 250,000 one way or the other.

It turns out that more people own machine guns than I realized. In North Carolina, a man who owns 300 guns seems to think that he must have machine guns to protect an imaginary business in his home. Really? It seems like the 200 odd other guns would be quite sufficient for any protection of a home and a business. And it turns out that the target practice that Dr. Land feels he must engage in with his machine gun is disturbing the entire neighborhood and strikes fear in the neighbors for good reason. The NRA expert called in to assess the situation with the private firing range advised that it was not a danger to the nearby homes. Of course. What would we expect an NRA expert to say? Others disagree.

This new story about the 8 year old boy who was killed by a bullet from a machine gun at a gun range, describes what happened on that fateful day in Massachussets. The boy was left in charge of another child- a 15 year old- who should not have been supervising the 8 year old with a weapon as powerful as a machine gun. Where were the adults in the room? Watching as it happened. The boy's father even videotaped the event and, of course, caught the shooting as it happened. How awful for all concerned. Now the man who promoted this machine gun shoot and firearms expo, a police chief, is on trial for his carelessness in letting this gun be shot by a young child without proper supervision. Machine guns are tightly controlled for a good reason. They are weapons designed to use in war and certainly not by children no matter where they are.

We need more common sense in this country about the fact that some guns are just not necessary for self defense. If you read the answers to the question about why machine guns are needed on the site above, you will see that some want them for anarchistic purposes; some say they don't need them, they just want them; some say for self protection; and many say because it is fun to shoot them. Few crimes are committed with machine guns or grenade launchers in our country. How they get to Mexico is an issue that is debatable. They are expensive and potentially dangerous adult toys and are certainly creating havoc in Mexico.


  1. "I found several pretty interesting websites that sell these weapons- here in our country. This company is just one of them."

    First, the Modern Firearms site doesn't sell anything. It's an online encyclopedia of firearms information. Second, it's not "here in our country" at all. As the .ru domain name implies, the site is based in Russia.

  2. Chris- my mistake about that one site. The others certainly sell guns. So your point is that because I linked to one site that actually isn't where one can buy guns that means that it isn't happening? The site does, however, link to places where the guns they feature can be purchased.

  3. All purchases of fully-automatic firearms, grenade launchers, and grenades themselves are subject to the National Firearms Act, and all of the according background checks, taxes, and requirements for transfers.

    All of them. Even person-to-person purchases/sales.

    Furthermore, as you can tell, most fully-automatic weapons are exhorbitantly expensive, due to their finite number.

    With all that said, do you really think Mexican drug lords are honestly purchasing firearms from American dealers and smuggling them across the border, or are they just looking south, and picking up a fully-automatic honest-to-God AK for maybe $300 from their neighbors to the south?

    Use a little common sense, Joan.

  4. "What could you want to shoot or be able to accurately shoot 3 blocks away? I'm just asking. "

    Speed-sheep for one (also known as antelope). They are notoriously skittish creatures and live in wide open places with very little cover for stalking. Interestingly, the .223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO round for which the AR-15/M-16 platform is typically chambered is particularly suited to such quarry given that they are not particularly large nor thick skinned.

    I'm just sayin'.

  5. Since 1934, there have been two homicides committed with legally owned automatic weapons.
    One was a murder committed by a law enforcement officer. On September 15th, 1988, a 13-year veteran of the Dayton, Ohio police department, Patrolman Roger Waller, then 32, used his fully automatic MAC-11 .380 caliber submachine gun to kill a police informant, 52-year-old Lawrence Hileman.
    Patrolman Waller pleaded guilty in 1990, and he and an accomplice were sentenced to 18 years in prison.

    The other homicide, possibly involving a legally owned machine gun, occurred on September 14, 1992, also in Ohio. Dr. Shau Chao Ho killed another doctor.

    Of the "US" made guns, only a fraction of the arms seized are handed over to the ATF to be traced. And, they say, not all of those can be traced because the serial numbers have been filed off.

    Mexican Army deserters, and the global underground arms markets involving Chinese, Russian, and US military arms are just a few of the ways that Mexican criminals acquire weapons.

    People lawfully obtaining machine guns have to pay a $200 tax, fill a mountain of paperwork, and get entered into a national gun registry. I sincerely doubt that they are the source of any substantial number of weapons.

  6. Japete: “Can machine guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers found in Mexico come from the U.S.? It's possible, given the fact that they are sold here and quite a few are owned here.”

    …and that our government has sent hundreds of thousands of them down to Mexico. I think it is very unlikely that one single civilian NFA stamped machine gun has shown up there.

    Question though. Are you asking for more regulations on machine guns? With all the talk of guns to Mexico and what the solutions are, those solutions are more than covered by the NFA.

  7. Rocket propelled grenade launchers are not considered guns. They're considered destructive devices and are heavily regulated by the ATF. I've never seen a working model legally offered for sale in the United States.

    Also, no sane law-abiding gun owner is going to use a machine gun for self defense. The liability of hitting an innocent bystander with a stray bullet is too great. I'm not aware of any defense courses that teach civilian self defense with a machine gun.

    Since 1934, only three homicides have occurred with a legally owned machine gun, and one of those offenders was a police officer, so I don't understand the alarm over machine guns.

  8. Seriously- I've never heard an antelope called speed sheep. I figured that a gun like this could be used in the wide open spaces like you describe. Thanks for giving me a new word for an animal, Words.

  9. No, TS. I am curious about machine guns in general not knowing a lot about them and I am still wondering about where the ones found in Mexico come from. I think it is still debatable but I'm sure we'll continue to get more information.

  10. Migo- thanks. Someone else mentioned 2 cases. I am not alarmed- maybe concerned is a better word. I posted this because I was interested in the several cases I mentioned that involved machine guns.

  11. No problem Joan... I think you have a fair question....

    There is not much in way of statistics (that I can find at least) for automatic weapon crimes... I think simply because the amount is negligible.

    I look at machine guns kinda like Yachts. They're prohibitively expensive to own, insanely expensive to shoot, and make a nice "keeping up with the Jones'" ante.

  12. Interestingly enough, since the manufacture of new civilian machineguns has been banned since 1986; this couldn’t be a case of the USA “feeding” guns to Mexico. It would be Mexico taking them from us. They could never be replaced.

  13. "Can machine guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers found in Mexico come from the U.S.?"

    The thing is that the stock of legal machine guns in the US is limited - and fixed. No new guns have been added to the registry since 1986.

    Because of this limited supply, the prices for legal full-auto weapons in the US are extremely high.

    A full-auto M16A1 cost the Army about $225, 20 years ago when the Army was buying them. But if you want a legal, NFA-registered M16A1, it's going to cost you $10-15,000.

    There's simply no way that any Mexican drug gang is going to offer enough to tempt a legal US class-III owner to sell it illegally. Not when black-market weapons are available pretty much anywhere in the world for 1/100th the price.

  14. The machine guns, grenades, and other NFA items in Mexico are almost certainly not coming from US guns stores.

    From the LA Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico-arms-race15-2009mar15,0,229992.story):
    The enhanced weaponry represents a wide sampling from the international arms bazaar, with grenades and launchers produced by U.S., South Korean, Israeli, Spanish or former Soviet bloc manufacturers. Many had been sold legally to governments, including Mexico's, and then were diverted onto the black market. Some may be sold directly to the traffickers by corrupt elements of national armies, authorities and experts say...
    federal police on Feb. 20 announced the discovery of 66 fragmentation grenades in the fake bottom of a truck intercepted in southern Mexico, just over the border from Guatemala... . Mexican authorities raided the warehouse in October and seized the cache, which contained South Korean-manufactured grenades...


    Here's another example.

    "They rent weapons to kill." El Universal, 4 May 2009:
    "...assault [rifles] like the AK-47 are 15,000 pesos [US$1,168.00]. The latter, like hand grenades, are only available 'on request.'

    Semiautomatic AK-47 style rifles in the US run ~$400+ at a gun store. I'd be very surprised if you could get a real full auto AK-47 assault rifle for less than $10K plus the NFA tax stamp. Take a look at some of the prices on these auctions (http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=210036757, http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=210217767).

    In comparison to the $15K US sale prices, a full auto AK-47 assault rifle in, say, Africa, runs around for ~$30-125.

    Do you think that a gun runner would buy a gun for $15K in the US then sell it for 10% of that in an illegal arms bazaar in Mexico city? Smugglers usually don't give a 90% discount. Any AK-47 that is getting sold for a grand or so in Mexico is either a semiauto firearm, or more likely something bought elsewhere (i.e. not from the US).


    It is pretty hard to claim that the full autos, grenades, etc in Mexico are coming from US gun stores. It defies the economic reality on the ground and the ATF's own trace data -- at least what they've released -- doesn't back it up. Those weapons are almost certainly coming from other countries, or were actually transferred by the US government to the Mexican government (or to another Latin American government).

  15. I believe Rob is correct about the two legally-owned machine gun homicides. I said three because I included the 8 year old boy in your post.

  16. japete, it's nice of you to thank Rob, but what he's doing is perpetuating one of the gun crowd's favorite deceipts. He put the words legally owned but fails to mention that no one is keeping count of the number of crimes committed by machine guns, whether legally owned or not. It's the same problem we have with that other favorite deception of theirs that .0001% of CCW guys ever commit crimes, or whatever the ridiculous percentage is. The fact is no one is counting. The ones that come to the attention of folks who are interested are a tiny fraction of the true number, hence only 2 machine gun crimes in 50 years.

    Common sense says that's impossible.

  17. Something interesting about how some of the weapons are getting into Mexico.

    ATF Source confirms walking guns to Mexico to pad statistics

  18. Mark, here's the problem with the link you provided. The linked article is a blog and it links to another article written by the same blogger about the claim of ATF employees padding numbers of guns from the U.S, by walking them over the border. So when you continue the links that are supposed to prove this, it keeps linking to places that are clearly biased. The last one I linked to is downright scary- http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2011/01/follow-money-meet-atfs-favorite.html

    This is a group called the Three Percent. From the site: " The Three Percent are the folks the Founders counted on to save the Republic when everyone else abandoned it.

    And we will.

    There will be no more free Wacos and no more free Katrinas.

    For we are the Three Percent.

    We will not disarm.

    You cannot convince us.

    You cannot intimidate us.

    You can try to kill us, if you think you can.

    But remember, we’ll shoot back ."

    All I can say to that is- YIKES!!!

  19. Well mikeb.. as you say "common sense" a favorite Princess Bride quote comes up:
    "I Don't Think That Word Means What You Think It Means"

    You are right that Joan is nice to thank me. And I thank her for taking a logical and teachable approach to the matter. You should take notes.

    Stating the facts is not perpetuating a deceipt.

    1937-2010 is 73 years, not 50. Quite a difference. And there are TWO recorded homicides with legally owned guns. We know that because the owners are registered in a national database, and until they became criminals, were law abiding. (Heck even one of them was a COP.)

    AS I CLEARLY STATED, I could not find (and welcome you to try) any government/scientific statistics regarding the criminal use of machine guns.
    I then stated my hypothesis that the number is too low to be statistically relevant.
    Since there are statistics widely available for the many different types, brands, styles, etc. of guns used in crime, it seems logical (hey, maybe even common sense)to assume that maybe they aren't that much of an issue.

    Keep reaching for the stars mikeb!

  20. What do you think is more likely?

    1) Mexican drug gangs are coming to the US and purchasing $15,000 full auto rifles that are 25 years old.

    2) Mexican military members who defect to the drug gangs are bringing their modern full auto rifles (provided by the united states government) with them.

    common sense!

  21. MikeB, here's a few facts about illegal machine guns:

    1. In the drug-ridden Miami of 1980, fewer than 1% of all gun homicides were with machine guns.

    2. None of over 2,220 firearms recovered from crime scenes by the Minneapolis police in 1987-89 were machine guns.

    3. 0.7% of seized guns in Detroit in 1991-92 were machine guns.

    These are from a pro-gun document, http://gunfacts.info/, so its references should be vetted out, but it's a good starting point. This is also old data, and firearm violence has actually decreased in the last decade for a number of reasons including more states offering CCW permits, so current numbers would be even smaller. Sites from the CDC, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and FBI will help confirm this.

    Now if you want to rely on "common sense" instead of facts, then ask your local police departments how many machine guns have been confiscated in recent raids. Given the media's bias against guns, someone being murdered by a machine gun in the United States would be on hundreds of news sites instantly. You could also search the VPC site for machine gun shootings. They would certainly highlight such shootings.

    The facts will show that machine guns used in crimes are exceedingly rare since they are so expensive to own and they aren't as easy to murder with as a revolver, despite what you see in the movies. If one was going to commit a murder and try to hide it, a revolver would hold the shells within the gun. A machine gun would leave shells at the crime scene from a federally registered firearm.

  22. "Nonetheless, quite a few people own them. I couldn't find a good place to find out how many legally owned machine guns are in the hands of U.S. gun owners. This site seemed to be agreeing that there are close to 250,000."

    Nowhere in the world will you find a mathematician who believes that 250,000 out of 300,000,000 is "quite a few".

  23. You know that if I had said many, you guys would have jumped all over me and said that 250,000 was a few so I shouldn't claim otherwise.

  24. Most MGs are in the hands of rich collectors at this point. They aren't going to be in a position where they can be stolen or otherwise gotten a hold of. There are a very small number of transfers in a year, and they require quite a lot of hoops to be jumped through, in addition to a sign off from your local law enforcement chief. The other option is to hire a lawyer and incorporate, or form a trust. Trusts are becoming a more popular way to go, because you can, for instance, put a spouse or a son on the trust, and it makes transferring possession easier than it otherwise would be. A trust is the only way two people can legally own a machine gun. If I had one registered to me, technically if I gave it to my wife to take the range, both she and I would be committing felonies. It we have a trust, and we're both on it, then we're fine.

    I highly doubt that Mexican Drug Cartels are going through all this to get machine guns that are going to be far cheaper stolen or smuggled from elsewhere.

  25. 250,000, I think, is the size of the entire NTRFR for registered machine guns, which is ATF's registry of NFA firearms. I think only 120,000 of those are transferrable.

    BTW, when you manufacture a machine gun today, you still have to file Form 1 (or whatever it is) and it still has to be registered in the NTRFR. It's just that you can only transfer it to law enforcement or government agencies, or someone under the authority of government. Or to another Class III SOT with a demo letter.

    To transfer to ordinary civilians it has to have been registered before May 19, 1986. Anything after that is restricted with limited exception. It's still in the NTRFR, however, at least to the extent that the NTRFR is accurate, which we know it is not always.

    The only thing I'm not sure about is whether machine guns manufactured under contract with the DoD follow NFA. I don't think military arms are in NTRFR. Not sure about DoD contracted weapons that get exported to other countries either. But I know LEO MGs are in there.

  26. I waited an extra day before commenting.

    The pertinent fact is this, if a machine gun is seized in Mexico and traced back to the US, it comes from two sources, a private person or a State Department Approved export.

    Since any private citizen who legally owns a machine gun is already part of a registry, it is very easy to trace that gun back to the person who should have it.

    So Joan, common sense would tell you that private citizens are not the source of machine guns in Mexico. If they were, we would have heard about it by now and private citizens would be prosecuted for illegal sale of a Class 4 firearm and illegal international sale.

    This being the real world, your assertion that a registered machine gun *could* end up in Mexico remains a remote possibility (after all, anything is possible and you can't prove a negative), but considering that someone who legally owns a machine gun can get much more money for their property by selling to a fellow American makes a shady international sale something not even worth considering.

    What I would like to see happen is the registry reopening, since now the register is closed. This makes machine guns a rich persons sport. Opening the registry would not change the tax stamp, background checks, and form 4 requirements.

    It would simply let American Citizens buy more American products. And we should legalize Marijuana while we are at it to help stop the cash flow into Mexico that fuels the cartel violence. People on marijuana are notoriously mellow...

  27. "Can machine guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers found in Mexico come from the U.S.?"

    Many, if not the majority of them probably came from Foreign Military Sales contracts from the U.S. government to the Mexican Army and police forces.

  28. Migo, Those are three interesting stats you provided. I don't believe a one of them. Your problem is you pick and choose those statistics which support your position. If that's too hard, you repeat what other biased gun owners have written.

    You should do what japete suggests and use some common sense. Ask yourself if those numbers make sense.

  29. What if everyone who owns a machine gun decides to shoot them in their back yards? Different story. But some owners are doing that and will ruin it for others.