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May 31, 2011

NSSF Responds to Firearms Trafficking Article

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has responded to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle concerning firearms trafficking into Mexico.

Read more below:

May 31, 2011

The Houston Chronicle
Viewpoints, C/O
P.O. Box 4260
Houston, TX 77210
To the Editor:

Unfortunately, a recent article by Dan Freedman on firearms trafficking (“Smuggled weapons: Bigger the better,” May 29, 2011) neglects to mention, among other things, the active cooperation between members of the firearms industry and law enforcement.  For example, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for America’s firearms industry, has partnered with ATF for over a decade on a national campaign to make the public aware that it is a serious crime to “straw purchase” a firearm.  The industry-funded program, called Don’t Lie for the Other Guy, also helps ATF educate firearms retailers to better detect and prevent illegal straw purchases – which, contrary to Mr. Freedman’s unsubstantiated claim, never spiked after 2004.

A recent report from the independent research group STRATFOR determined that less than 12 percent of the guns seized in Mexico came from the United States. In fact, according to ATF statistics, the average age of recovered firearms in Mexico is more than 14 years past the original date of purchase, a clear indicator that these firearms were not recently straw purchased in the United States.

In recent years, as many as 150,000 Mexican soldiers have defected to work for the drug cartels – bringing their American-made service-issued firearms with them. It has also been well-documented (Washington Post) that the drug cartels are illegally smuggling fully-automatic firearms, grenades and other weapons into Mexico from South and Central America. Such items are not being purchased at retail firearms stores in the United States.

Semi-automatic rifles, incorrectly categorized as so-called “assault weapons,” are not machine guns, but modern sporting rifles (firing only one round per pull of the trigger) that are used every day by law-abiding Americans for the shooting sports, hunting and home protection.  Also, magazine capacity for MSRs, a red-herring “issue” recently being floated by anti-gun groups, is no different than any handgun, shotgun or rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine. Whether for home defense or the shooting sports, tens of millions of law-abiding gun owners in the United States utilize magazines arbitrarily deemed “high capacity” by gun-control lobbyists.  These law-abiding citizens have done nothing to warrant the scorn of our opposition, nor the forfeiting of a fundamental constitutional right.

Since 2004, when the “assault weapons” ban expired, modern sporting rifles have fast become one of the most popular types of firearms for law-abiding Americans to purchase. During this time period of increased firearm sales, the crime level has continued to drop – at points, precipitously.  Of course, this should come as no surprise to people as the Department of Justice has routinely made clear that so-called “assault weapons” are rarely used in crimes (less than 2 percent). A fact bolstered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hardly a pro-gun entity, which has stated that banning firearms and ammunition has no effect on crime levels.

The murder rate in Mexico, like in the United States, has been steadily decreasing since before 2004 – the end of the so-called “assault weapons” ban.  The Mexican National Public Security System reports that in 2008, the most recent year with available data, 12 people per 100,000 were the victims of murder. In 1997, the number was 17. In the late 1980s, the murder rate hovered near 20, according to the National Statistics and Geographic Institute.

In response to concerns over the violence in Mexico, ATF has conducted nearly 2,000 inspections of firearms dealers along the border.  The result? Not a single dealer was charged with committing any crime and only 2 (or 0.01%) had their licenses revoked for unknown reasons that could have nothing to do with the cartels illegally obtaining firearms from retailers in the United States.

We respect and applaud President Calderon’s willingness take on his country’s powerful drug cartels, and we agree that crime needs to be addressed in Mexico; however, diminishing the civil rights of law-abiding Americans is neither an option nor a solution.


Lawrence G. Keane
Senior Vice President and General Counsel
National Shooting Sports Foundation

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