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.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The proof is in the pudding...

If the gun lobby would admit to the truth, they would support measures to stop the flow of American guns into Mexico. This comprehensive article does a good job of writing truth to power- the power, of course, being the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its' minions who still want to claim falsely that guns used by the Mexican drug cartel are not coming from our own country. If we stop those guns coming from gun dealers in Arizona, Texas and California, some of those gun dealers would have far fewer sales. Gun trafficking is big business: " Since the federal law banning assault weapons expired in 2004, so-called "straw purchasers“ have flooded U.S. gun stores in the Southwest, mostly in Texas and Arizona, sweeping up these and other weapons. Court documents show such purchasers buying as many as 20 AK-47s at a time, paying as much as $11,000 in cash." Follow the money.

To follow up on this article, a blogger from Texas displayed information from reporter-researcher Will Tucker in an interactive map .The map shows the type of gun found at  crime scenes in Mexico, along with the name of the defendant who bought the gun(s) and the place from which the guns came- even the name of the gun shop. When you use real names and pictures of real guns, it's harder to avoid the truth.

We can't ignore the ATF's failed Fast and Furious program which was meant to track those straw purchases to crimes committed with the guns. This program obviously did not work as planned and there should be no excuses for what happened. But why did the ATF want the program?- to stop the straw purchases of guns in gun shops in border states from getting into the hands of the Mexican drug cartel. A Congressional investigation was asked for and completed and found many problems within the ATF regarding this program. The investigation also was meant to cast a dark cloud over the ATF and the Obama administration. But during the proceedings, it also cast a spotlight on the real and deadly problem of U.S. guns accounting for many of the senseless deaths in Mexico. And now the Obama administration has decided to deal with the problem by monitoring multiple sales of long guns, often accomplished through straw purchasing. Straw purchasing is illegal. If, by requiring border state gun dealers to report the purchase of multiple long guns per week to one buyer, straw purchasers are found and charged, we can begin to address the problem. It won't solve this horrendous problem which has been happening for many years, but ignoring it is not an option. Nevertheless, the NRA is turning itself into a pretzel to stop the program.

What's puzzling to me is that the NRA is saying the reporting of the purchase of more than 3 long guns per week per buyer would not do anything to stop the flow of illegal guns into Mexico. It has been shown over and over that straw purchasing of these type of guns is actually happening. What is a better way to stop the flow of guns? Does the NRA have a better plan? I haven't seen one yet. Surely stopping straw purchases and knowing that some people are purchasing a large number of long guns in a short time period, many of which are the type of assault rifle coveted by the Mexican drug cartel, would help. Who would it hurt? No one would be stopped from purchasing but the ATF would know if someone is buying these guns from gun dealers in border states. That is where the guns are coming from if you look at the chart in the link above. If legitimate gun purchasers are not engaged in this type of buying, there is nothing for them to worry about. Why would a law abiding American citizen need to purchase more than 3 long guns in one week?

There is obviously a serious difference of opinion about how to deal with the major problem of the huge appetite for drugs in the U.S. leading to the Mexican drug cartel abusing their power by killing those who would get in their way. Clearly the U.S. has a part to play by working on both the drug problem and the gun problem. Doing one without the other will not lead to a viable solution. Those on the side of gun control are not advocating to ignore the problems at the ATF nor to ignore the problem of drug abuse. But for years, we have been advocating for doing the right thing to stop the carnage in Mexico which is abetted by our own lax gun policies. The Mexican government has been advocating for the same. Instead, we have some bad decisions taking the focus away from the larger problem. Let's not "throw the baby out with the bath water" in our attempts to find someone to blame for a problem that needs to be solved by working together for common sense. Right now we have nonsense and prevarication.


  1. This link is to a letter in the Washington Post concerning this post- http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/this-gun-law-isnt-aggressive-or-controversial/2011/07/12/gIQA5VSoII_story.html

  2. I think NRA's plan, and I think it's a good one, is to get ATF to stop allowing guns to be trafficked into Mexico. Look how many of the guns on the interactive map were traced to Carter Country. That's one of the gun shops that was reporting potential straw buys to ATF, and ATF was instructing them to allow the sales to proceed. Look how many are handguns, where we already have a reporting requirement in place, nationwide, not just on border states. Traffickers aren't stupid. They know how to get around the reporting requirements.

  3. I still don't see that as a reason not to proceed. There are many long guns in that map as well. What exactly IS the NRA plan to get the ATF to stop allowing guns to be trafficked into Mexico?

  4. Reason #1 not to proceed-it's a violation of law as passed by congress.

    Reason #2 not to proceed-everything made illegal by this law is already illegal. You're just making it doubleplusunleagal. Since we weren't enforcing the laws on the books that already prohibit these behaviors there is 0 reason to suppose new laws will be enforced with any more vigor.

    Reason#3 not to proceed-As has been shown conclusively elsewhere, only a small fraction (less than 20%) of the guns used in crimes in Mexico started out in our civilian market. the actual number is somewhere south of 10%. This is a drop in the bucket, and it's not low hanging fruit.

    Reason #4 not to proceed-When ATF was alerted to know straw purchases they let them walk-why would you suppose that if they lacked the will/resources/integrity (you decide what ATF leadership was thinking) to stop purchases that they KNEW were bad, what makes you think they will spend any resources investigating those that may or may not (and most probably aren't) bad?

  5. Japete: “But why did the ATF want the program?- to stop the straw purchases of guns in gun shops in border states from getting into the hands of the Mexican drug cartel.”

    It is hard to argue that given that is the exact opposite of what they did. They explicitly allowed sales that would have been otherwise denied. Was their intention to go into Mexico and take down the whole cartel by seeing where the guns go? It doesn’t make any sense. I have not been one of the more outspoken people on this subject until the reporting requirement came up. It is really bad timing to try to argue for it in light of Fast and Furious.

    I think Mexico should open up gun sales in their own country to bring them closer to US policies. I know what you are thinking, but hear me out. What if they opened up gun sales to civilians but had every regulation that you are calling for here (reasonable regulations)? That means they can buy guns at local licensed dealers only with a background check on all sales (no private sales allowed). Anything under .50cal is ok, and semi-automatic is also ok so long as it doesn’t have a flash suppressor, bayonet mount, magazine that holds more than 10 rds, etc… Permits for carry are “may-issue” only and not allowed in places with a permit to sell alcohol. Since these are acceptable policies to you in the US, I would imagine they should be acceptable policies in Mexico as well. Gun trafficking would either slow to a crawl (because they have their own guns in Mexico), or the trafficking would continue because it is easier for them to “get guns from US gun shows without a background check”. In that case, it provides you with leverage to get those policies here. The important part is that citizens of Mexico can legally use guns to help protect them from the violence they are experiencing.

  6. Interesting ideas, TS. But I would suppose that is up to the Mexican government to decide. Most other countries don't have gun laws similar to ours and seem to do just fine. Mexico, of course, is in the midst of a terrible carnage. Shooting deaths are too numerous to count. I doubt that they want to loosen their gun laws as a solution to their problem. On the face of it, it just wouldn't make much sense. But, as I said, that is something they will decide for themselves.

  7. I was not aware that the investigation was completed it seems like information is still coming out about this. In fact it seems like the information I have seen recently implicates the FBI and the DOJ along with the ATF. I think this is far from settled and would imagine that this program has a few more skeletons in the closet.

  8. Here is what will really happen.

    The Mexicans will simply cycle enough different people through to not trigger the more than three rule. So instead of using one person for their straw purchases, they will use 10.

    Nothing will get better and, in typical government fashion, the only answer the ATF will be able to come up will will be "Let's keep doing this, but harder.."

    So the number will be changed to reporting EVERY long gun purchase.

    That won't fix the problem either. because the law only affects some border states so naturally the only answer they will come up with is to expand the program to EVERY state.

    This too will fail, since the border is still wide open, but that won't stop them. Now that they have the idea of recording every purchase,they will decide that the only answer will be a nation wide waiting period and a 1 per month rule.

    No telling the make up of the the courts by then so they just might get their way.

    We call this "letting the camels nose under the tent" Pretty soon you have the entire camel in the tent with you.

    I have a better idea. This is a Mexican problem right? The drug wars are on that side of the border and that is where 99% of the fighting is.

    Would it not make sense that Mexico might want better control of it's border? We should offer to help them close the border except at crossing points then inspect the heck out of anything crossing.

    Perhaps if we actually stopped illegals from crossing the border either direction, the gun smuggling problem would diminish too.

    We could even build a fence and stop drugs while we are at it.

    Too obvious?

  9. "But why did the ATF want the program?"

    Because it would increase the number of guns in Mexico that could be traced back to the US. Some estimates are that as many as half of firearms found at Mexico crime scenes that could traced back to the US were firearms that had been criminally imported into Mexico by the ATF in the first place.

    And why was the ATF trying to increase the number of Mexican crime guns that had originated in the US? To provide political cover for efforts to increase restrictions on legal guns in the US.

    As for these new reporting requirements - they are flatly illegal. Apparently the House is discussion proposals to forbid the ATF from going forward with them. That is, in my mind, insufficient.

    The authors of these proposals within the ATF should be subject to criminal prosecution for violating federal law. But, of course, the Holder Justice Department is unlikely to pursue any such case.

  10. Wow- jdege- a conspiracy theory!! You guys are so good at that accusation. You are so paranoid that you make things up as you go along.

  11. Since today is my birthday and it's very hot and muggy here in Minnesota, I am not in the mood for fighting with you guys. Have a nice day everyone.

  12. Question for all:

    Most news reports about the long gun reporting proposal mention that the same thing has been done with handguns. So does japete's letter to the editor. Something odd, though:

    Whenever I hear it much repeated: "Let's try proposal X on category B -- we already tried it on category A." I cannot help but ask: "So how did proposal X actually work on category A?" Common sense, no?

    So I likewise want to ask how the reporting proposal has worked with handguns. Has violence committed with handguns obtained from gun trafficking gone down significantly since the reporting requirement on handguns? If so, how many prosecutions based on the reporting requirement on handguns have there been?

    Yes, most news reports about the long gun reporting proposal mention that the same thing has been done with handguns. But of that having been a conclusive success in actually reducing violence committed with handguns obtained from gun trafficking, I hear hardly anything.

    Odd, no?

  13. Japete: “I doubt that they want to loosen their gun laws as a solution to their problem. On the face of it, it just wouldn't make much sense.”

    It makes sense to me to me given that the amount of violence the citizens are exposed to. You always call us paranoid by asking “what are we so afraid of?”. Isn’t the fear of the Mexican citizen more legitimate in your eyes?

    Japete: “But, as I said, that is something they will decide for themselves.”

    By that same token, isn’t figuring out how to stop illegal guns from entering their country something they should decide for themselves? They chose to make these guns illegal, so they created the trafficking situation. We can do our part by enforcing the straw purchasing laws we already have which are not there just for Mexico’s sake. Not to sound cold, but I don’t have a lot of sympathy for a government that chooses to make this product illegal and then be surprised that criminals (who are professional traffickers) still manage to get as many as they want- and then blame us for it.

    Have a happy birthday!

  14. Happy Birthday Joan. Head to the pool. Have an adult beverage. FOrget about the crazies that inhabit this space.

  15. Happy Birthday to our favorite activist!

  16. Thanks 18 Echo. I actually golfed with good friends and had birthday cake and an adult beverage after the game. It was a good evening and a good way to celebrate my birthday.

  17. Well, Pat, an unexpected compliment. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.

  18. Happy Birthday.

    What course do you recommend up your way? I will be there in October for vacation - I've played up in Two Harbors but we weren't too happy with the course.

  19. We usually golf at Lester Park public course which is in O.K. shape. They are still working on some of the fairways after our terrible spring. But the course is gorgeous with views of the Lake from the higher holes. The Lakes Nine is more challenging and in better shape. Also the city run Enger Park is in pretty good shape and also with some spectacular views of the Lake. People pay hundreds of dollars for the views that we get for very much less than that. I have not golfed at Lutsen but have heard it is really wonderful but quite expensive. Also Nemadji in Superior is good as well as the really nice Hidden Greens course in Solon Springs, WI.

  20. Here is yet another article about an amendment offered by the NRA sponsored Republicans.... http://thehill.com/homenews/house/171255-gop-votes-to-block-funding-for-new-gun-sale-requirements?page=2#comments

  21. http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2011/07/operation-fast-and-furious-designed-to.html

    If F&F isn't a plan to institute more gun control, why is this e-mail asking for numbers so the can demand registration? It's not a conspiracy when there is evidence of what they are doing.

  22. Only the paranoid members of the NRA would take what was said in that e-mail provided in the link as an attempt for the government to institute a gun registry.

  23. Only the paranoid members of the NRA would take what was said in that e-mail provided in the link as an attempt for the government to institute a gun registry.

    Then offer an viable alternative explanation -and good luck with that.

    Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. If drumming up support for more gun control wasn't the goal here, just what was?

  24. That is the purpose of this blog in case you missed it...

  25. Joan - I was speaking of Gunwalker, aka "Fast and Furious," not this blog.

    The "paranoia" you deride is entirely justified. If creating "facts" to support gun control wasn't the point of this escapade, what was? You don't stop gunrunning by doing more gunrunning . . . .

  26. There is this little armory in Mexico that has all the weapons confiscated by the Mexican government. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30603909

    As noted in the MSNBC report, (not gun friendly) those nearly 306,000 weapons (whole lot more since then) represent only a fraction of the weapons in drug cartels hands.

    Yet only 23,000 or so confiscated from 2005-2008 were sent to the US for traceability where 90% were found to originate from the US.

    If so many were indeed from gun stores in the US, why shouldn't the Mexican government supply those weapons for tracing? There is no logical reason, unless they already know that is not the case eh?

    ATF notes that most weapons have a 14 year life from manufacture to crime. Easily those 23,000 weapons (8% of what was confiscated) could have been purchased over that 14 year time span, prove otherwise.

    The US has requested access to review the weapons in the armory yet the Mexican government will not allow this, why? Based on experience in the level of corruption in business dealings in Mexico, one can safely determine that with greater power, greater corruption.

    How many legal shipments of firearms to Mexico have been diverted into the drug cartels hands? Do believe if the US found out that a significant percentage of the weapons they provided were being diverted, something would be done don't you?

    Grenades, rockets launchers, all sorts of "military hardware" not available to the public in the US, yet the civilians and gun stores are the main conduit for firearms into Mexico, ROTFLMFAO, yeah right.

    Of course, the nearly 120,000 deserters from the Mexican army and taking their firearms have no impact as absolutely NONE of these people then find work in the drug cartels eh?


    There is also the economic and technical side of the story.
    Technical in that the majority of rifles in that armory are true assault weapons.


Full auto AK-47's that cost $300-$400 on the black market
    AK-47 (select fire single shot and full auto) in US cost between $13,000 to $15,000 dollars and have a stringent requirement from the ATF on purchase and possession. Where are all the arrests as these firearms require special requirements, maybe you should read up on that eh?

    Semi Auto AK-47 cost from $400-$500, machine shop and a conversion kit adding another $200-$300 in materials and time.

    Yet the antis want you to believe the cartels would pay the extra money to do so, lol!

    They are violent, not stupid!

    So until the Mexican government allows the ATF to go in and identify the weapons and trace, highly unlikely as major Mexican players are involved, any claims that US citizens are the major source of firearms rather than the government which licenses and sells over $34 million in small arms to Mexico every year is ka ka!



    Felipe Calderón's Drug War Has Become Hot Market for U.S. Arms Trade

By: Bill Conroy

The dollar value of U.S. private-sector weapons shipments to Mexico in fiscal year 2009 exceeded the value of private arms shipments to two other major conflict regions elsewhere in the world, Iraq and Afghanistan, and even outpaced the value of arms shipped to one of the United States’ staunchest allies, Israel.
U.S. private-sector suppliers shipped a total of $177 million worth of defense articles — which includes items like military aircraft, firearms and explosives — to Mexico in fiscal 2009, which ended Sept. 30 of that year.

    So again, who is the main supplier from the US eh japete?