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.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More questionable smearing- this time ATF

I have been asked by some to stick with one theme on my blog so we can have a continued "discussion" about an issue. So I have decided to stick with the idea that the pro gun side smears anyone who is reasonable concerning guns and gun laws. Here is the latest by Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America (" the only no -compromise gun lobby in Washington") trying to persuade a reporter that appointing Andrew Traver to the long vacated position of ATF Director would result in the inevitable confiscation of the guns of law abiding citizens. In this article the false accusations continue and,, much to the credit of the pro gun guys, the talking points are the same no matter what. " More then 65,000 guns recovered by Mexican law enforcement have been traced to the United States, so to suggest that American law enforcement -- and not Mexican cartels -- are behind this widespread trend is not only pure fantasy, but deeply dishonest. Finally, there have been zero reports that have linked Traver, who runs the Chicago area office of the ATF, to the Brian Terry case."

To the NRA and all of the extreme pro gun guys, anyone who could become the ATF Director would not pass muster. And I do mean anyone. This position has been vacant now for five years because the NRA and other extreme pro gun organizations have caused such a fuss that Senators are afraid to even bring a nominee to a hearing. Who wants to hear the continuous falsifications and mantra that guns will be confiscated if we have an ATF Director? And who wants to get the threats from the pro gun side if you are a reasonable Senator? And anything the Brady Campaign is for will automatically whip the pro gun side into a frenzy.

Speaking of the Brady Campaign/Center, Dennis Henigan, VP of the Brady Center has it right in his latest blog: " Perhaps the NRA bosses, and the House members they control, can explain to the families of the slain federal agents, and to those of the Mexican citizens who have lost their lives to drug cartel gunfire, the wisdom of depriving ATF of an important tool against gun trafficking. But please spare us the phony talk about the need to “enforce the laws on the books.”" Not only do we need a Director of the ATF to deal with these serious problems, but we need to deal with these serious problems. The NRA and the other "no-compromise gun lobby" say NO!! The pro gun side loves to claim that they, too, want to stop violence and they don't want criminals to have guns either. But virtually every time a reasonable opportunity comes up that would actually accomplish this, they resoundingly turn it down. Hypocrisy as far as the eye can see....

So what to do? Call them out and make them honest. Make these pro gun guys argue their side with the facts at hand and make them say why it would be a bad idea to have a Director of an organization that cracks down on illegal guns on our streets and stops the trafficking of guns to Mexico where they are used to kill thousands. Will this lead to confiscation? Of course not. But the truth does not matter when one has paranoia on their side. Secondly, to all in Congress who kowtow to the NRA's version of the truth, please stand up for common sense! It's time to deal with this issue. Lives depend on it.


  1. "More then 65,000 guns recovered by Mexican law enforcement have been traced to the United States"

    That, I'm afraid falls into the category of blatant falsehood.


  2. It's not a good idea to have someone in charge of something that they're extremely biased against. I don't think Andrew Taver should be in charge of the ATF any more than I'd want a pro-lifer in charge of regulating abortion clinics or David Duke in charge of the NAACP.

    It's just bad form.

    Besides, I'd respect the guy more if he didn't blatantly lie to an NBC reporter who was either complicit or didn't know any better. He handed her a fully automatic AK, had her fire it from under her armpit where she couldn't aim, and watched her spray rounds all over the place all the while narrating that all those rounds "are hitting people sitting on the front porch or riding down the street on their bike."

    "It'll empty this entire magazine in about three seconds."

    I have friends who are pro gun control. They're my friends because they're straight with me and we can agree to disagree. No one respects a liar, and that guy is a LIAR.

  3. You say he is a liar. He is not a liar.

  4. Joan, it's against the law for ATF to do what it's attempting to in regards to long gun reporting. Whether you agree with it or not, they don't have the power, and are specifically proscribed by Congress from doing so. There's no dishonesty there, no talking points there, that's just what the law is.

    And I was initially skeptical of the claims that were coming out of ATF's screw-ups in Project Gunrunner, because there was no evidence coming forth. But now that evidence has come forth from Senator Grassley's office, it's pretty clear they were letting sales proceed to suspected traffickers and then not following through, and losing track of the guns. One of those guns, and there is evidence supporting this, was used in the murder of a Border Patrol Officer.

    These aren't talking points, these are facts backed up by thorough documentation. ATF has serious competency problem, and it does need a leader, but we will not accept, under any condition, a leader who has a background supporting gun control like Andrew Traver does. If the Obama Administration nominates someone who's neutral on gun control as a matter of public policy, and who has a strong background of following and enforcing the law, competently, and with respect toward Constitutional rights, he'd be acceptable to us.

  5. jdege- thanks for sending me this article written by a pro gun guy. I'm sure it is not biased at all. I choose to believe my numbers and you can choose yours. Who's right?

  6. Sebastian- haven't heard from you in a while. As to the claims made, there is likely more to it that we don't know yet. Andrew Traver- in favor of gun control? Let's see- his job would be to monitor gun dealers, look for illegal dealers and illegal guns, shut down bad apple gun dealers, deal with issues that will keep us safer. He is not one side or the other. He would be doing a job that the ATF director has always done. You guys just plain don't want a director. You all don't like the ATF- you've made no bones about that. You don't like government intervention of anything really, from what I can tell. I hear what you are saying- I just don't happen to agree with you and think you are wrong.

  7. What is Andrew Tavor's track record with gun control? Has he been neutral and pushed to properly enforce existing laws, or has he pushed for new and stricter laws? Has he stated any desire to further regulate guns and gun owners, or has he said he will just enforce the laws as Congress determines them? If there is such opposition to him, there must be a good reason. I want an ATF director, but I want one who is not going to be against guns in any way, I just want him to do is job and ensure the laws are enforced properly and fairly, and that guns are kept away from criminals without taking them from us.


  8. Nope- I believe you guys don't want a director- otherwise why put up road blocks for every nominee- even the one put up by your own President Bush.

  9. The position has only been subject to confirmation since 2006. The first person Bush put up was Sullivan. That nomination was held by Idaho Senators who were unhappy ATF improperly tried to pull the license of a gun dealer in their state, who then proceeded to be subject to harassment from inspectors when he fought the revocation and had his license returned to him by the courts. NRA took no official position on Sullivan, in contrast to Traver.

    Obama didn't name anyone to that seat until after the midterm. So if ATF hasn't had a director, that largely falls on Obama and not us. Just because Traver is unacceptable to us doesn't mean Obama can't go find a nominee who is acceptable.

  10. "I'm sure it is not biased at all. I choose to believe my numbers and you can choose yours. Who's right?"

    You could start by actually reading the GAO report, and seeing what the actual data is.


    "According to the GAO report, some 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals by Mexican authorities in 2008. Of these 30,000 firearms, information pertaining to 7,200 of them (24 percent) was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for tracing. Of these 7,200 guns, only about 4,000 could be traced by the ATF, and of these 4,000, some 3,480 (87 percent) were shown to have come from the United States.
    Mexico's Gun Supply and the 90 Percent Myth

    "This means that the 87 percent figure relates to the number of weapons submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF that could be successfully traced and not from the total number of weapons seized by Mexican authorities or even from the total number of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing. In fact, the 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."

  11. Any suggestions, Sebastian? Someone who is pro gun maybe?

  12. "Someone who is pro gun maybe?"

    Someone who sees the role of BATF to enforce the federal laws against criminals who violate federal gun laws (which BATF and the DOJ have had little interest in prosecuting - thousands of felons are caught in possession every year, only a couple of dozen are prosecuted), instead of harassing ordinary gun owners who have no mal intent.

    Someone who does not believe that it is the role of the BATF to "restrain" the gun culture.

    Someone who recognizes, and is determined to reduce or eliminate, the sustained pattern of abuse perpetrated by the BATF.

    Someone who'd work to establish objective standards for the testing methods that BATF has abused to put innocent people in jail.

    And someone who'd put an end to the continuing pattern of BATF agents and officials of lying to courts and to Congress.

  13. jdege- Interesting. I'm not sure we are comparing apples to apples with all the different figures and interpretations. I found the article you linked to interesting as well as the group/organization of which I had not heard. There was an article in another place about a study done by Mayors Against Illegal Guns which found somewhat similar data to the article you sent but then some different data. And another article on the Stratfor site said this: "... it should come as no surprise that a large number of the weapons found on the illicit arms market in Mexico originated in the United States. In fact, Mexican officials say that as much as 90 percent of the illegal weapons they seize are of U.S. origin."

    Read more: Mexico: Dynamics of the Gun Trade | STRATFOR "

    As I said, who's right? There is no doubt in my mind or that of most people that a large number of guns used in the Mexican drug cartel crimes and the shootings come from the U.S. markets. We can quibble about exact numbers but the evidence is mounting that we are providing a very large number of guns to the Mexican drug cartel. I am not quite sure why you guys can't admit to that.

  14. Interesting allegations all the way around jdege. Are you being harassed by the ATF?

  15. I don't really have any suggestions. US Attorneys might be a reasonable pool to draw from. Someone like Chris Christie, who's not clearly on either side, would probably be the type of person who'd be acceptable to either side. Someone like him would have reasonable law enforcement and administrative background.

    But this isn't about finding the right person. This is politics. Those two things don't really often intersect.

  16. http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/bill-conroy/2011/02/pentagon-fingered-source-narco-firepower-mexico

    "The State Department cables released recently by WikiLeaks support Narco News’ reporting and also confirm that our government is very aware of the fact that U.S military munitions are finding their way into Mexico, and into the hands of narco-trafficking organizations, via a multi-billion dollar stream of private-sector and Pentagon arms exports."

  17. Interesting article. Follow the money..." As the death toll mounts in the drug war now raging in Mexico, it pays to remember that weapons trafficking, both government-sponsored and illegal, is a big business that feeds and profits off that carnage. Bellicose government policies, such as the U.S.-sponsored Merida Initiative, that are premised on further militarizing the effort to impose prohibition on civil society only serve to expand the profit margin on the bloodshed."

  18. And more germane to the discussion-

    "But the State Department cables recently made public by WikiLeaks do seem to confirm that the U.S. government is very aware that much of the heavy firepower now in the hands of Mexican criminal organizations isn’t linked to mom-and-pop gun stores, but rather the result of blowback from U.S. arms-trading policies (both current and dating back to the Iran/Contra era) that put billions of dollars of deadly munitions into global trade stream annually."

    So if we can agree to end the War on Drugs and just let people be accountable for their actions, then madam we're getting somewhere.

  19. Wow! Just Wow!

    I personally would like to see the BATF dissolved and their duties given to another agency. I am not in favor of the laws not being enforced but the BATF has a long history of abuse and selective enforcement. Barring that I would welcome an honest and competent director who could make the organization one that did its job as it should.

    Andrew Traver is not that person. He is not honest. He is on record as being antigun. He will continue the pattern of lies and abuse.

    No one said that Traver was involved in the gun walking case. The fact is that BATF allowed guns to be taken to Mexico and there is a very good chance one of those guns took the life of a Border Patrol agent.

    Yes, a number of weapons in the possession of the cartels are of American origin. But the numbers that are quoted in the media are deceptive. Fully automatic weapons, grenades and rocket launchers did not come from US gun stores or from gun shows.

    As far as the long gun reporting, this too is not as you report it. The BATF is specifically prohibited from doing this by law. I would oppose any law enforcement agency making their own laws and bypassing congress. (as a side note, a number of gun dealers voluntarily told the BATF that people were buying long guns under questionable circumstances and were told to allow the sales -- leading to the death of Brian Terry)

    I also don't see how you can pretend to carry on a dialog when you have already made up your mind and respond with ...

    "You say he is a liar. He is not a liar"

    "I choose to believe my numbers..." (choosing to disbelieve the Government Accounting Office which I think we can agree is not pro-gun)

    "Are you being harassed by the ATF? " (indicating that if he isn't personally being harassed that there was no harrassment ever)

    "Nope- I believe you guys don't want a director- otherwise why put up road blocks for every nominee- even the one put up by your own President Bush" (despite the fact that the only nominee the NRA has opposed is Traver) (BTW -- You might look up the record of what the BATF tried to do to Red's Gun Shop. Or how many FFLs they have tried to put out of business because instead of requiring the purchaser to write out the name of the state in full they allowed the Post Office accepted abbreviations. The number of FFLs has been reduced by 80% in the last 10 years.)

    It seems to me that you have decided that if someone disagrees with you they couldn't possibly have a legitimate reason to do so.

  20. The idea of selecting an ATF head who would go after the criminal gun owners and leave the rest alone is pretty foolish. It seems to be based on the false presumption that the criminal gun owners are completely separated from the law-abiding ones. This is not the case, as everyone well knows. Guns start out, practically all guns, start out lawfully owned. A proper AFT boss would need to focus on the law abiding gun owners, in order to prevent the flow of THEIR guns into the criminal world. This is what gun owners are so afraid of.

    I would suggest that this fear is unfounded and irrational. The strictest gun control would still leave law-abiding gun owners free to do just what they do now. Of course, this is presuming that they aren't prescription drug addicts or misdemeanor wife-beaters or road ragers. As long as they don't have a history of leaving their guns around children unsupervised or dropping them in the parking lot on the way into church, as long as they are truly responsible in other words, they'll continue to own guns.

    I think they know all this, so it makes you wonder why all the adamant resistance to Andrew Tavers.

  21. Robin- we obviously disagree on this issue. That doesn't mean you can't express your opinion in opposition to mine. If I find what you say to be outrageous, insulting, not factual, etc., I will challenge it. Then you can come back at me, politely and we may or may not agree. As you can see, we come from different places on the issue. If your responses are legitimate but I still don't agree, that does not mean I am cutting off discussion. Your responses may be legitimate to you but I have found that they are not legitimate or based in fact. I am searching for the truth and I am getting those who agree with me to become more active. I am not writing this blog for the pro gun folks except that it is providing them with some amusement and fodder for their own blogs. My blog is viewed by about 500 people a day from all over the country and the world. Your comments are from a few of those of you who are pretty entrenched yourselves who may or may not represent the majority of gun owners. I suspect that you don't based on all polling over many years and my own discussions with pro gun folks in my area who happen to be reasonable people.

  22. "Interesting allegations all the way around jdege."

    Allegations that are fully supported by the findings of various Congressional investigations over the years.

    "It seems to be based on the false presumption that the criminal gun owners are completely separated from the law-abiding ones. This is not the case, as everyone well knows."


  23. I'm not familiar with the case in the article you linked so no comment from me. But pardon me for being skeptical since the link comes from: " The site was founded on June 16, 1998 under the name "Conservative News Service", using the domain name conservativenews.org" Just as you guys don't trust much of anything coming from the Brady Campaign or any organization working with Brady, I don't always trust your sources. Sad, but true.

  24. "Here is the latest by Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America (" the only no -compromise gun lobby in Washington") trying to persuade a reporter that appointing Andrew Traver to the long vacated position of ATF Director would result in the inevitable confiscation of the guns of law abiding citizens."

    Where does Pratt say Traver and the ATF will confiscate the guns of law abiding citizens? I read the article and searched for that but couldn't find it. He does say that Traver and the ATF will target law abiding citizens for arrest. That's a reasonable prediction as the ATF has done so as SOP since it's creation.

    "More then 65,000 guns recovered by Mexican law enforcement have been traced to the United States, so to suggest that American law enforcement -- and not Mexican cartels -- are behind this widespread trend is not only pure fantasy, but deeply dishonest."

    The number is woefully incorrect. In addition, many of the American arms come from our government's arms dealing and not our licensed gun dealers. You shouldn't be blaming citizens for the actions of the "only ones" you trust with these weapons.

    There is growing evidence of the ATF being complicit in the exportation of weapons sold by American gun dealers. You ignore it of course because it points out the corrupt and incompetent nature of the agency you support, however it follows the long standing standard operating procedure of the federal government playing both sides.

    "To the NRA and all of the extreme pro gun guys, anyone who could become the ATF Director would not pass muster. And I do mean anyone."

    Ridiculous. It's impossible to get millions of people to agree on any one thing. Your statement is a gross oversimplification and mis-characterization of the diverse views of a huge group of people. It is much like saying all Muslims want to engage in violent jihad against non-believers. No they don't, and representing the view of a minority as the only view of everyone in that huge group is fundamentally dishonest.

  25. Joan-

    Re: "He is not a liar"

    This video SHOWS Traver lying.


    Part of the reason the topic of conversation jumps around is that you shut off topics of conversation with "He is not a liar" and don't support your argument.

    So fine, either he is unaware of the difference between Title I and Title II firearms, (and as a result unaware that the gun he's talking about is worth at least $20,000 to private collectors) and is therefore completely incompetent...

    ...or he's a liar.

  26. "Make these pro gun guys argue their side with the facts at hand and make them say why it would be a bad idea to have a Director of an organization that cracks down on illegal guns on our streets and stops the trafficking of guns to Mexico where they are used to kill thousands. "

    Corruption and incompetence are two very good reasons to oppose the ATF.

    You sure are persistent though at ignoring the causes (and thus the solutions) of the violence in Mexico.

    What will happen to Mexico if we prevent every single citizen owned American firearm from entering Mexico? There may or may not be a slight increase in the price of firearms in Mexico.

    Will that keep the Mexican cartels from obtaining firearms? No, they make billions from dealing drugs so a three percent increase in the price of firearms won't even attract their attention.

    Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results. You wish to try prohibition enforced by government agencies again and again and again to get different results?

    Since you are so fired up about stopping American guns ending up in the hands of the Mexican cartels, what do you plan do about the State Dept. and Pentagon and the intelligence agencies from shipping huge quantities of firearms in the future to South American despotic regimes who will eventually sell them to the Mexican cartels or leave them unsecured so they are dealt to the Mexican cartels? What is Travers plan to reign in the massive gun dealing by our government?


    Mr. LARA. Thank you, Chairman Coble, Representative Scott, and Members of the Subcommittee for allowing me to tell you my story. I am Michael Lara from Tucson, Arizona. Currently I am a lieutenant on the Tucson Police Department and have been a law enforcement officer for 28 years.


    Mr. COBLE. Lieutenant Lara, I empathize with you. That was a very compelling testimony that you gave. And just as an aside, I note that you were acquitted after a 3-day trial. How long was the jury out?

    Mr. LARA. The jury was out less than 1 hour.

    Mr. COBLE. I would have thought that would—less than 1 hour?

    Mr. LARA. Less than 1 hour.

    Mr. COBLE. Were you interviewed, lieutenant, by any representative representing ATF or the Department of Justice prior to your having been charged?

    Mr. LARA. No, I wasn't.


    None of this is to say that straw purchases isn't a problem. I have a good friend who works the counter at a gun store that also does gun shows. They turn away a lot of business. The point is that ATF is (and has been) a house in disarray. The laws are extremely complicated and often arbitrary, and members of the ATF have varying degrees of competence as well as widely varying beliefs regarding firearms. If they would focus on streamlining processes and enforcing the rules that exist rather than looking for new ways to interpret laws to make them more restrictive, there would be better enforcement of gun laws, less insistence on more laws, and gun owners wouldn't feel like the ATF is out to screw them over like they screwed over a veteran police officer. Everyone loses this way.

  28. What's the lie here in this video? Interesting that a security camera caught the killer buying a gun from an ffl with a falsified I.D.

  29. Anon- the fact that you claim the ATF is a "house in disarray" is evidence that it needs a director.

  30. The lie is that Traver says "This is an AK47", yet makes no distinction between the fully automatic version that costs as much as a new car, and the semiautomatic legal version.

    He says criminals see "these things" in movies, TV, and video games, and say "Hey. let's get one of those" as if you can walk into a 7-11 and buy one.

    "Pull the trigger and you can mow people down" That would make sense if "assault rifles" that are occasionally (but rarely) used in crimes were machine guns. They're not.

    The reporter takes the lie and builds on it, saying "They're almost impossible to control" (unless you're the ATF agent who demonstrated it), making the case that not only will criminals shoot each other, but that in the process they'll firehose stray rounds all over Chicago.

    Machine guns are not a even a blip on the radar when it comes to firearms crimes, and haven't been since the days of Bonnie and Clyde. And even then many of the guns that gangs had were stolen from police stations.

    The implication that "machine guns are killing our kids" is irresponsible at best and a despicable lie at worst. Propaganda like this is the very reason that "most Americans think machine guns are illegal".

  31. If you'd like to stop the flow of guns to Mexico, stop selling weaponry to the Mexican military for their deserters to steal when they defect to the cartels. Or do you still believe they are getting their M4's and RPG's from Uncle Bubba's Gun Shack?

    "Secondly, to all in Congress who kowtow to the NRA's version of the truth, please stand up for common sense!"

    Actually, those pro gunners in Congress kowtow to their constituents, who would send them packing if they didn't vote the way we wanted them.

    Just like we did after the AWB in the 90's.

  32. If "lie" is too strong a word, perhaps "intentionally misled", "misdirected" or "blatant conflated" will work better? Strictly speaking, he didn't lie. He told the truth in a way designed to give a false impression. That impressing being that you can walk into any (gun show|gun store|street corner) and legally/easily buy a full auto AK-47 for a pittance.

    The fact of the matter being that it is not easy, not cheap, and not common. Street crime generally doesn't happen with full auto machine guns, regardless of where they come from. It isn't practical. Yet, he's intentionally and dishonestly giving the impression that it is common and easy. I presume you, or people you know, watch news stories and such for this kind of thing. When was the last time you heard of someone using a real, honest to goodness, machine gun in crime? I don't mean "we found something machine gun shaped" in the house. I mean "let loose with a machine gun in the street". The last time I can think of was the LA shoot out.

  33. Thank you Atrius for your reasonable comments. I see what you mean by your comments and understand why people on your side may take issue with what Traver said. But I don't think it is a disqualifying video or statement in his nomination for ATF Director. I happen to think it is an excuse for the pro gun side to be against him. I do appreciate the way you explained the objections to his comments, though.

  34. Joan.

    Legal purchase of machine guns takes literally months. Use of a machine-gun in a crime automatically involves the Feds. There is no machine gun crime in the US. Even the gangs have learned that lesson. It happens on tv but not in real life.

    The video in question and the statements made by Traver might not sound like a lie. If you or I said the same thing under oath in a court of law, I am positive we would face perjury charges. For the man who would hold a cabinet level or department level job in DC to knowingly misspeak like that is unacceptable.

    Sinc e the eighties when Neal Knox campaigned to have the bureau disbanded it has clung to life as a duplicitous and wasteful entity.

    The FBI has better gun and bomb labs. Tobacco is handled far more properly under the FDA and CPSC. Moonshining is dead. So lets save the US government some 7 billion dollars a year by killing it.

  35. "The FBI has better gun and bomb labs. Tobacco is handled far more properly under the FDA and CPSC. Moonshining is dead. So lets save the US government some 7 billion dollars a year by killing it. "

    The IRS also still causes enough unnecessary hassles and headaches for Americans, so we don't need the ATF for that. The Pentagon and the CIA still arm our enemies better than the ATF has, so we don't need the ATF for that. We really only need one completely corrupt agency in these tough economic times and the DEA can do that.