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Over 90 Percent of Mexican Crime Guns Originate in U.S., New GAO Report Finds

Traced Guns Have Become “Increasingly More Powerful and Lethal in Recent Years”

than 90 percent of the firearms
seized in Mexico and traced by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
and Explosives (ATF) over the last three years came from the United
according to a new report released today by the U.S. Government
Office (GAO).  The study also found that according to U.S. and Mexican
government officials,
“these firearms have been increasingly more powerful and lethal in
years” with many of the weapons coming from gun shops and gun shows in
Southwest border states of the U.S.
 Many of the weapons, the study found, are AR-15 and AK-47 type
semiautomatic assault rifles. The study also revealed that of the
traced guns,
nearly 22 percent were manufactured in third countries and imported
into the United States before being trafficked into Mexico. 

Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy
Center (VPC) states, “This report confirms that the military-style
firearms that now dominate the U.S.
gun market are the exact weapons the Mexican drug cartels seek to carry out
their violence against law enforcement and private citizens on both sides of
the border.”

A hearing on the study’s findings is scheduled to be
held today by Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), chairman of the Subcommittee on
the Western Hemisphere of the House Committee
on Foreign Affairs.


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The April 2009 Violence Policy Center report
“Indicted: Types of Firearms and Methods of Gun Trafficking from the
United States to Mexico as Revealed in U.S. Court Documents” (
urged the Obama Administration to use its executive powers to
strictly enforce existing restrictions on the import of
“non-sporting” weapons such as AK-47 and PS90 assault
rifles—a ban (separate from the now-expired 1994 federal assault weapons
ban) first imposed by the George H.W. Bush Administration, tightened up by the
Clinton Administration in the wake of gun industry efforts to evade it, and
abandoned by the George W. Bush Administration.

Adds Rand, “With the
stroke of a pen the Obama Administration could stop the import of a significant
percentage of the guns being sought by Mexican gun traffickers.  It should
do so immediately.”


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The Violence Policy Center is a national tax-exempt educational organization working for a safer America through research, investigation, analysis, and advocacy. The VPC provides information to policymakers, journalists, organizations, advocates, and the general public.

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