Monday’s blistering verbal broadside at Attorney General Eric Holder from Senator Charles Grassley was followed up Tuesday morning when the Iowa Republican set the record straight on recovered crime guns in Mexico, not only rebutting Holder’s testimony but also that of his subordinate, Lanny Breuer.
During last week’s Senate Judiciary Hearing, Holder alluded to the number of guns recovered in Mexico that have been traced to the United States. This column discussed the attempts to turn the hearing into a launching platform for more gun control justification.
“[O]f the nearly 94,000 [weapons] that have been recovered that have been traced in Mexico in recent years, over 64,000 of those guns were sourced to the United States of America; 64,000 of 94,000 guns sourced to this country.”— Attorney General Holder
This was the same contention that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer had made to the Judiciary Subcommitee on Crime and Terrorism days before, where, as reported by CNS News, he told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA):
“From my understanding, 94,000 weapons have been recovered in the last five years in Mexico. Those are just the ones recovered, Senator…Of the 94,000 weapons that have been recovered from Mexico, 64,000 of those are traced to the United States. We have to do something to prevent criminals from getting those guns.”
But Grassley has now countered that claim with some facts, not “understandings” of his own. Here’s what the Iowa senator had to say:
According to ATF statistics, of the 21,313 guns submitted for tracing by the government of Mexico in 2009, only 5,444 of them (25 percent) traced back to federally licensed gun dealers in the United States. Similarly, in 2010, of 7,971 guns submitted for tracing by the government of Mexico, only 2,945 (37 percent) traced back to federally licensed gun dealers in the U.S.
Grassley further explains how the numbers have been skewed:
The reason for the large disparity between the overall numbers of guns submitted in those two years is that in late 2009, the government of Mexico provided the United States with a large list of guns it had been stockpiling for years. Accordingly, 2009’s numbers do not reflect guns that were seized exclusively in 2009, but rather for a number of the preceding years.
Additionally, any statistics on the percentage of such guns tracing back to the United States are further skewed because of selection bias. As it has been widely noted, the government of Mexico only provides guns to the United States for tracing that they already have reason to believe originated here. There is no reason to submit for tracing guns that are known to originate in Mexico.
In a November 8, 2011, court filing, the Chief of ATF’s Firearms Operations Division made a declaration that “in 2008, of the approximately 30,000 firearms that the Mexican Attorney General’s Office informed ATF that it had seized, only 7,200, or one quarter of those firearms, were submitted to ATF for tracing.” Based on these statistics, it’s clear that the total sample of guns submitted for tracing is not representative of all the guns found in Mexico, and there isn’t evidence that the other 75 percent of those guns were sold in a U.S. gun store.
Breuer’s initial claim, and Holder’s follow-up days later appear to be the stuff that dreams are made of. They only gave Sen. Feinstein the opportunity, as this column reported, to run interference for the Obama administration and push her own anti-gun agenda.
Such revelations reinforce the theory that Fast and Furious was not about stopping guns from going to Mexico, but about getting them there in the first place and subsequently recovering them from crime scenes, after which they could be used to “pad the statistics” and support the Obama administration claims about firearms traffic across the border.
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