For Release: Thursday, June 18, 2009
Traced Guns Have Become “Increasingly More Powerful and Lethal in Recent Years”
Washington, D.C.–More than 90 percent of the firearms seized in Mexico and traced by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) over the last three years came from the United States, according to a new report released today by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). The study also found that according to U.S. and Mexican government officials, “these firearms have been increasingly more powerful and lethal in recent years” with many of the weapons coming from gun shops and gun shows in Southwest border states of the U.S. Many of the weapons, the study found, are AR-15 and AK-47 type semiautomatic assault rifles. The study also revealed that of the traced guns, nearly 22 percent were manufactured in third countries and imported into the United States before being trafficked into Mexico.
Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center (VPC) states, “This report confirms that the military-style firearms that now dominate the U.S. gun market are the exact weapons the Mexican drug cartels seek to carry out their violence against law enforcement and private citizens on both sides of the border.”
A hearing on the study’s findings is scheduled to be held today by Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The April 2009 Violence Policy Center report Indicted: Types of Firearms and Methods of Gun Trafficking from the United States to Mexico as Revealed in U.S. Court Documents urged the Obama Administration to use its executive powers to strictly enforce existing restrictions on the import of “non-sporting” weapons such as AK-47 and PS90 assault rifles—a ban (separate from the now-expired 1994 federal assault weapons ban) first imposed by the George H.W. Bush Administration, tightened up by the Clinton Administration in the wake of gun industry efforts to evade it, and abandoned by the George W. Bush Administration.
Adds Rand, “With the stroke of a pen the Obama Administration could stop the import of a significant percentage of the guns being sought by Mexican gun traffickers. It should do so immediately.”