In May of 2011, news broke that while the Obama administration was not pursuing gun control legislation, it was pursuing gun control “under the radar.” As a candidate for the presidency, Obama had professed support for the Second Amendment, while earlier in his career he had portrayed himself as very much on the side of gun control advocates. In May, he sought to reassure gun control advocates that he was really still on their side.
“They’re doing a pretty good job … as Obama has said, ‘under the radar.’ There’s a lot going on under that radar,” Gun Owners of America Director Larry Pratt said, referring to a remark Obama reportedly made in a private meeting with gun control advocates. “They’ve shown us how much they are prepared to do through regulation.”
Pratt pointed to two proposals in particular. Under one proposed rule from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, dealers in four Southwestern states would be required to report multiple sales to the same person of certain kinds of rifles. The proposed requirement — which would apply to dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas — is open for comment until the end of May. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence claims the change would help the ATF “crack down” on Mexico’s gunrunners.
Who are “Mexico’s gunrunners?” CBS reporter Sharyl Attkinson reports that thanks to a little-known State Department initiative, the Obama administration itself is one of Mexico’s main sources for firearms. Many of those firearms coming from the US through this program end up in the hands of Mexico’s hyper violent drug cartels. And the State Department’s oversight of all this is pathetic.
The problem of weapons legally sold to Mexico – then diverted to violent cartels – is becoming more urgent. That’s because the U.S. has quietly authorized a massive escalation in the number of guns sold to Mexico through “direct commercial sales.” It’s a way foreign countries can acquire firearms faster and with less disclosure than going through the Pentagon.
Here’s how it works: A foreign government fills out an application to buy weapons from private gun manufacturers in the U.S. Then the State Department decides whether to approve.
And it did approve 2,476 guns to be sold to Mexico in 2006. In 2009, that number was up nearly 10 times, to 18,709. The State Department has since stopped disclosing numbers of guns it approves, and wouldn’t give CBS News figures for 2010 or 2011.
The State Department audits only a tiny sample – less than 1 percent of sales – but the results are disturbing: In 2009, more than a quarter (26 percent) of the guns sold to the region that includes Mexico were “diverted” into the wrong hands, or had other “unfavorable” results.
Both the State Department and gun manufacturers argue that the sales help US foreign policy, but it’s hard to see how. I suppose it keeps a few gun makers employed, but too many of the guns themselves end up with the cartels in one way or another, and are used to destabilize our southern neighbor and make our border with Mexico more dangerous. The Mexican military recently reported that as many as 9,000 guns are missing.
The spike in Mexico’s drug war violence may at least at one time have been part of the Obama administration’s “under the radar” effort to promote gun control in the US. After all, that effort was supposedly about going after “Mexico’s gunrunners.” Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama had all publicly slammed US gun makers and sellers, citing statistics that our “lax” gun laws allowed many guns bought legally in the US to end up in Mexico (mostly left out of those arguments: the fact that our porous border also allows guns to move both ways across the border). They clearly connected our gun laws to Mexico’s violence — for what political purpose did they do that?
Both gun makers and sellers, it turns out, were selling or walking thousands of guns into Mexico within Obama administration programs. The Obama administration may have been the largest of Mexico’s gunrunners. At least in the case of the State-approved sales to Mexico, this is still going on. When confronted with questions about the other program that allowed thousands of firearms to walk their way into Mexico’s drug war, numerous administration officials lied to Congress. For what political purpose did they do that?
h/t Hot Air