For Immediate Release
Assistant Director: 202-898-0792.
Statement of Brady Campaign President on GAO Report of American Guns Trafficked to Mexican Criminals
WASHINGTON - Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
Violence, issued the following statement on the report released today
by the Government Accountability Office about the trafficking of
American guns to Mexican criminals:
"It should be clear today that our weak gun laws pose not only a
public safety crisis at home, but also a foreign policy crisis across
our southern border. It is past time for Congress and the
President to close the gun show loophole and to give law enforcement
the tools it needs to protect the safety of the American people. The extremist gun lobby should no longer be permitted to dictate our nation's gun policy."
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"I'd like to say I'm surprised by the GAO's findings about American guns fueling criminal violence in Mexico, but I'm not. The Brady Center reached many of the same conclusions three months ago in our report, ' Exporting Gun Violence: How Our Weak Gun Laws Arm Criminals in Mexico and America.'
Key findings by the Government Accountability Office on the trafficking of
American guns to Mexican criminals:
- "While it is impossible to know how many firearms are illegally smuggled into Mexico in a given year, about 87 percent of firearms seized by Mexican authorities and traced in the last 5 years originated in the United States, according to data from Department of Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)." (Executive Summary)
- "First, certain provisions of some federal firearms laws
present challenges to U.S. efforts [to combat illicit sales of firearms
in the United States], according to ATF officials. Specifically,
officials identified key challenges related to (1) restrictions on
collecting and reporting information on firearms purchases, (2) a lack
of required background checks for private firearms sales, and (3)
limitations on reporting requirements for multiple sales." (page 3)
- "Lack of required background checks for private firearms sales.
Federal firearms law prohibits certain persons from possessing or
receiving firearms. A 1993 amendment to the Gun Control Act (the Brady
Handgun Violence Prevention Act) required background checks be
completed for all nonlicensed persons seeking to obtain firearms from
FFLs, subject to certain exceptions. These background checks provide an
automated search of criminal and noncriminal records to determine a
person's eligibility to purchase a firearm. However, private
sales of firearms from one individual to another, including private
sales at gun shows, are not subject to the background checks
requirement and, therefore, do not require the seller to determine
whether the purchaser is a felon or other prohibited person, such as an
illegal or unlawful alien. DOJ documents and ATF officials
stated that, as a result, many firearms trafficked to Mexico may be
purchased through these types of transactions by individuals who may
want to avoid background checks and records of their firearms
purchases." (page 27)
- "Gun shows. According to ATF officials,
individuals can use straw purchasers as they would at gun shops to
acquire guns from gun shops with booths at gun shows. In addition,
individuals can also purchase guns at gun shows from other individuals
making sales from their private collections. These private sales require no background checks of the purchaser and require no record be made or kept of the sale.
ATF officials told us this prevents their knowing what percentage of
the problem of arms trafficking to Mexico comes from these private
sales at gun shows." (page 22)
- Two out of the "ten firearms types most frequently
recovered in Mexico and traced for the Fiscal Years 2004 to 2008" are
assault weapons: AK-type semiautomatic rifles and AR-15 type semiautomatic rifles. (page 17)
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The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence.
We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.