||FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2010
MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS RELEASES NEW REPORT ON CRIME GUNS TRAFFICKED INTO MEXICO FUELING DRUG CARTEL VIOLENCE
Southwest Border States Source of Three-Quarters of U.S. Guns Recovered in Mexico’s Crimes
Time from Gun Sale to Recovery at Mexican Crime Scene Decreasing, a Sign of Sophisticated Gun Trafficking
The more than 500 members of the bi-partisan coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns today released a new report, entitled The Movement of Guns Across the U.S.-Mexico Border, that reveals that Southwest border states supplied a disproportionate number of crime guns to Mexico from 2006 to 2009. The report analyzes new data made available to Mayors Against Illegal Guns by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The new data, released by the coalition co-chaired by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, builds on the coalition’s first groundbreaking source state analysis, The Movement of Illegal Guns in America, released in December 2008. The new report on Mexican crime guns is online at: www.MayorsAgainstIllegalGuns.org/Mexico2010.
“Illegal guns and their accompanying violence devastate communities across our country, now we know more about how guns purchased here have helped sustain violent drug wars in Mexico,” said coalition co-chair and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “I hope this report from Mayors Against Illegal Guns is a wake up call for policy makers – it is too easy for criminals and traffickers to get guns.”
“Last month President Obama and Congress authorized $37 million to ATF trafficking operations on the Southwest Border, following through on a recommendation from Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” said coalition co-chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “That’s an important step, but the Administration and Congress needs to do more: like giving ATF the resources to meet its dealer inspection goals and finally closing the gun show loophole that fuels illegal trafficking within the United States and into Mexico.”
The report shows that of the guns recovered from Mexican crime scenes and submitted for tracing by ATF between 2006 and 2009, four in ten of those guns were originally sold in Texas. The three other border states – Arizona, California, and New Mexico – were the source for another third of those guns.
When controlling for state population, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas each have export rates 169 percent greater than any other state and at a rate three times as high as the fourth border state, California. Relatively lax gun laws in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas may contribute to that disparity.
The report also notes that the time between the original sale of guns at U.S. gun dealers and the recovery of those guns at Mexican crime scenes is decreasing – a sign of ever more sophisticated gun trafficking.
The data in the report was provided to Mayors Against Illegal Guns by ATF in March 2010. Until 2007, this data was not available because Congress had implemented restrictions, known as the “Tiahrt Amendments,” that prohibited ATF from releasing crime gun trace data. However, in 2007 and 2009, after national campaigns by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and over 30 police organizations, Congress relaxed these restrictions on sharing crime gun trace data. Although there are still significant restrictions on the use of ATF crime gun trace data, the recent reforms allowed ATF to provide the data set relied upon in this report to Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns has recommended a series of measures to combat illegal gun trafficking. In August 2009, the coalition presented a Blueprint for Federal Action on Illegal Guns, 40 recommendations to better enforce the gun laws already on the books. These 40 recommendations included:
- Appropriating $39.5 million to enhance ATF gun-trafficking operations on the Southwest border; on August 13, 2010, President Obama signed H.R.6080 authorizing $37.5 million to ATF for enhanced border operations.
- Providing resources to ATF to meet its goal of inspecting gun dealers at least once every three years, on average – currently ATF is only able to inspect dealers at a rate of one inspection every 11 years.
- Improving identification verification during the FBI-administered gun background checks to identify undocumented aliens and other prohibited purchasers.
- The full list of recommendations is available here: www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/blueprint
The coalition has also urged Congress to change certain laws to make it harder for criminals to obtain guns, including closing the so-called “gun show loophole,” which enables prohibited purchasers to buy guns without going through background checks. According to ATF testimony in Congress, gun shows are typically a key source of guns illegally trafficked into Mexico. (See statement of William Hoover, Assistant Director for Field Operations, March 17, 2009.) A December 2009 poll by Republican Pollster Frank Luntz found that 69 percent of NRA members support closing the gun show loophole.
About Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Since its inception in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from just 15 to 500 mayors. Mayors Against Illegal Guns has united the nation’s mayors around common sense goals: finding new ways to strengthen the enforcement of existing laws, protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable, securing access to trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking, and working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns.
||Mayor Bloomberg's Press Office
||Mayor Menino's Press Office