For Immediate Release


Peter Hamm,
Communications Director
Doug Pennington,
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.

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