Mission statement:

Armed and Safe is a gun rights advocacy blog, with the mission of debunking the "logic" of the enemies of the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

VPC uses straw man arguments and anecdotal evidence to support 'Iron River' myth

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) is loudly crowing about its latest "report." In it, they claim to refute assertions that the role played by the U.S. civilian gun market in making weapons available to the Mexican drug cartels is being greatly exaggerated by the media, the citizen disarmament lobby, and both the U.S. and Mexican governments.

Washington, D.C.--U.S. court records from southwestern states clearly show that illegal gun traffickers involved in smuggling firearms to Mexico seek semiautomatic assault weapons, armor-piercing handguns, and 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifles from U.S. gun shops according to a new report released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). For its investigation, the VPC obtained records filed in 21 federal firearms smuggling prosecutions in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas between February 2006 and February 2009. For a copy of the VPC investigation, Indicted: Types of Firearms and Methods of Gun Trafficking from the United States to Mexico as Revealed in U.S. Court Documents, please see http://www.vpc.org/studies/indicted.pdf.
Let's look at the report:
Aided by restrictions―endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and implemented by Congress . . .
Those "restrictions" would be the Tiahrt Amendment, which is fully supported by the BATFE (hardly a friend to gun owners)
. . . on the release of federal crime gun trace data and a longstanding lack of detailed information on gun commerce (both legal and illegal) in America . . .
That "longstanding lack of detailed information on gun commerce" would presumably be a reference to the fact that the citizen disarmament lobby is not satisfied that there's enough of a federal gun registry.
. . . the gun lobby has mounted a concerted campaign of disinformation: claiming that Mexican drug lords are solely using true military weapons, not their civilian counterparts, and that such guns come from anywhere but the U.S. civilian firearms market.
There's the straw-man argument I mentioned. Could someone at the VPC please show me an instance of anyone from "the gun lobby" (and remember--there are millions of us from whom to find such an example) claimed that the guns used by the cartels are solely true military weapons, or that they "come from anywhere but the U.S. civilian firearms market"? I've been following this issue quite closely for a while now, and have yet to see such an assertion.

It's important for them to claim that we're arguing that none of the cartel guns come from the U.S. civilian market, though, because the meat of their argument is showing twenty-one cases in which the guns were originally sold on in civilian commerce in the States.
For this report, the Violence Policy Center worked to identify criminal cases alleging illegal gun trafficking to Mexico filed in U.S. federal courts in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas for the period February 2006 to February 2009.c Reviewing government press releases, government statements, and local news coverage, the VPC was able to identify and obtain the court documents for 21 cases filed during this period. The information presented in this report regarding specific firearms was retrieved exclusively from facts specified by the United States government, primarily in criminal complaints and indictments. The VPC included every case it found, regardless of the type or number of weapons trafficked.
Surprise, surprise, those twenty-one anecdotes support the claim that the civilian market in the U.S. is supplying the guns used by the drug cartels. Congratulations, VPC, one straw-man effectively knocked down.

Now, let's see how you do with something closer to our real argument:
Even if the supply of U.S. guns was cut off, as long as the flow of money to the cartels continues, they could rearm themselves by buying from other countries, including Eastern Europe or Central America, where surplus weapons dating to conflicts in the 1980s remain, analysts said.

"It's convenient for the cartels to be able to shop in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and elsewhere," said George Grayson, a Mexico scholar at the College of William & Mary and author of the monograph "Mexico's Struggles with Guns and Thugs." But stopping the U.S. trade merely would place "a thorn in the side of the cartels, rather than an AK-47 in the heart."
That's a lot closer, but I have to point out that in the list of states Grayson mentioned, he left out California, which according to BATFE trace data (the trace data supposedly made "unavailable" by the Tiahrt Amendment), California is the second most "convenient" state for the cartel's gun buyers, despite California having implemented just about every gun trafficking law the gun prohibitionists have thought of, and having a vastly comprehensive "assault weapons" ban.

And I still wonder how the drug thugs are supposedly getting so many of our guns, and so much of our ammo, when the manufacturers and importers can't keep up with domestic demand.