Cross-Border Gun Trafficking

An Ongoing Analysis of the Types of Firearms Illegally Trafficked from the United States to Mexico and Other Latin American and Caribbean Countries as Revealed in U.S. Court Documents

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Utilizing indictments and other documents filed in U.S. courts primarily in the southwest United States that detail the make, model, caliber, manufacturer, and retail source of firearms seized in criminal trafficking cases, this website reveals that military-style semiautomatic firearms easily available on the U.S. civilian gun market comprise a significant portion of the weapons illegally trafficked to Mexico and other Latin American and Caribbean countries. This website is updated as new information becomes available to the Violence Policy Center.

Analyses of federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) trace data by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research indicate that the border states with the highest per capita exporting of crime guns to Mexico (Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) had export rates four times that of California. The researchers attribute this to California having much more stringent gun sales laws than the other border states. California would make a relatively unattractive environment for traffickers to acquire their guns because the state banned the assault weapons that they clearly wanted, gun purchasers can more readily be held accountable for illegally transferring their guns, and California’s law prohibits bulk gun sales common in gun trafficking rings operating in Texas and Arizona.

Details for all other states are available via this link.

[updated 10/20/2023]