By William Tansill via VCDL
Covington VA –-(Ammoland.com)- “This is a bit old now, but here’s a letter I wrote to the Post’s ombudsman regarding one of their editorials (I have yet to receive any sort of acknowledgment)”:
It appears that on firearms-related topics, at least, the Washington Post Editorial Board has a policy of willful ignorance. I refer to your editorial of February 4, 2012, entitled: “Lax U.S. gun laws enable killing in Mexico”:
[Editors Note: The Washington Post Article has had the ability to leave public comments disabled, most likely to prevent readers from calling out the biased nature of the article]
The editorial begins as follows:
“DO AMERICA’s failed gun policies contribute to the terrible violence in Mexico? Alejandro A. Poire Romero makes a compelling answer that the answer is yes.”
Frankly, I have no problem with that opening statement. Unequivocally, failed US Policy has indeed contributed to the death of hundreds, if not thousands of Mexican nationals. From that point on, however, the editorial is shaded in half-truths and omissions.
For example – the very next paragraph continues:
“Law enforcement officials in both countries acknowledge that 70 to 80 percent of the traceable guns seized in Mexico can be tracked to the United States. Mr. Poire Romero, a top Mexican national security and criminal justice official, offers additional evidence that the United States has been an enabler of the violence.”
Let’s look at the first sentence to see the distortion. It states that “70 to 80 percent of the *traceable* guns seized in Mexico …”
Do you see the issue? This sentence, read incautiously, would lead one to believe that the number of US-made weapons found to be responsible for Mexican violence far exceeds the numbers that can be substantiated. The key here is the phrase “traceable guns”. What is omitted is any reference to the fact that “traceable guns” are but a small subset of the overall quantity of weapons seized in Mexico. In fact, by some estimates, only 17% of all weapons seized are of US origin. Others characterize the total as approximately 36%. While substantial, these figures are far less inflammatory than the stated “70 to 80 percent”.
The wording in the editorial is meant to mislead the casual reader into supporting policies that are otherwise dubious.
The editorial goes on to say:
“In 2005 roughly one-third of the seized guns were assault weapons. Today, according to Mr. Poire Romero, assault weapons represent 60 to 65 percent of the guns confiscated by Mexican authorities. The assault-weapons ban in the United States lapsed in 2004.”
Again, this paragraph is inflammatory and misleading. Specifically, there is no such thing as a civilian assault weapon. A true weapon of this type is a military-grade, select-fire weapon. The term “select fire” is the key. The phrase refers to a type of weapon that, with the flip of a selection lever, is capable of either semi-automatic or fully automatic fire. Semi-automatic (semi-auto, for short), requires that the operator of the weapon pull the trigger for each round fired. Fully automatic operation, or full-auto, allows the operator to simply hold the trigger in its firing position, and the weapon will fire continuously until the trigger is released, or until the weapon exhausts its magazine.
If you are not aware, the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and the Gun Control Act of 1968 severely limit the number of such firearms in civilian hands. The ATF reporting paperwork is quite onerous for persons wishing to possess such weapons. Due to the paperwork and the laws themselves, civilian ownership of such weapons is quite low and it is simply not possible to walk into any US gun shop or sporting goods store and walk out with the equivalent of a [fully auto]”Tommy gun”.
As reporting by the Post and other news sources has made clear, the weapons favored by Mexican drug cartels run to full-auto weaponry, grenades, and other military-grade weapons. These items are simply not available for sale in any store accessible to an ordinary American citizen. By definition then, US gun laws, as they relate to the civilian market, cannot be responsible for the types of weaponry routinely found in use by the drug cartels.
To write an editorial slanted to suggest that our laws, and specifically the Second Amendment are at the root of Mexico’s carnage is disingenuous at best, and a flat-out, bald-faced lie at worst.
Again, the editorial subtly misleads:
“The operation, a version of which was undertaken during the George W. Bush administration, was deeply flawed; some 2,000 weapons are unaccounted for. Weapons traced to Fast and Furious purchases were found on the scene of the 2010 killing of a Border Patrol agent. These revelations led to the resignation of the U.S. attorney in Phoenix and reassignment of the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.”
The unspoken assertion here is that even if the current administration erred, IE: *Bush did it too*!!!! then I’m certain that at some point in your childhood one or both of your parents asked a question similar to this one: “So if Bobby jumped off a cliff you would too?” The point being to reveal the idiocy of blindly mimicking foolish behavior. To seriously advance the same childish logic in your editorial defies belief.
Even assuming that the above was a valid attempt at an explanation, it leaves out the fact that “Operation Wide Receiver”, as conducted by the Bush administration was:
- Designed to carefully monitor weapons as they were purchased and transported to Mexico.
- Was designed to coordinate with Mexican authorities who would take over the monitoring duties once the weapons had transited the border.
When it was discovered that the Mexican authorities were not monitoring the weapons, the program was discontinued.
In contrast, the Fast and Furious program:
- Used straw purchasers (sometimes FBI informants, sometimes using Obama stimulus funds) to purchase weapons in bulk from various gun shops.
- The gun shops in question were told in advance by ATF agents to expect the purchases.
- When the employees of the gun shops questioned the sales, they were advised by ATF to allow the dubious sales to proceed.
- In at least one case there is evidence that the straw buyer was a prohibited felon, and that the required NICS check was manipulated by the FBI to allow the sale to proceed.
- ATF agents were told not to follow the purchaser after the fact to see where the weapons might be stored before arriving at their final destination.
- The Mexican government was specifically *not* informed of these activities. In fact, when the question was raised by ATF personnel in Mexico, at least one such person was forced into retirement.
The entire premise of this operation, therefore, was to trace the guns so purchased only after they were abandoned at crime scenes in Mexico. What possible motive could underlie such a hideous policy? The Post willfully refuses to ask that question, and instead writes pap that panders to the administration’s lie that our gun laws are to blame for all of this and that ever more draconian enforcement methods must be enacted to prevent a recurrence of such acts.
In fact, Fast and Furious, itself a criminal operation, lies at the root of much of the observed violence. Let’s take a look at the “irregularities” on display as a result of this criminality:
- The sovereignty of one of our neighbors and a presumed ally has been violated. Recall if you will the stink that was raised when a truckload of Mexican soldiers crossed the border into Texas:
- From abcnews.com: http://tinyurl.com/6n4gus7
- Fast and Furious was a far greater violation, yet there has been little coverage by the Post, and to a large extent, what coverage there are attempts to blame US gun shops and laws for the carnage rather than official government policy.
- Hundreds, if not thousands of Mexican citizens as well as two US nationals – Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ICE agent Jaime Zapata – have been murdered due to the administration’s policy. That makes this administration and the officials who conceived of and prosecuted these policy accessories to murder on a massive scale, yet there is no outcry from the Post.
- The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) treaty has been violated. Not a peep on this from the Post.
- The Arms Export Control Act of 1976 has been violated.
Indeed, there is evidence beyond Fast and Furious that even many of the military-grade weapons found are the result of deliberate US policies.
Even when the weapons recovered and traced are civilian-style firearms (i.e.: semi-automatic), a critical point is omitted – what is the “time-to-crime”? In other words, was the weapon purchased, taken to Mexico, and then immediately used in a crime? Or was the weapon legally purchased at some point in the past, perhaps stolen from its legal owner some years later, and then transported to Mexico? Per the ATF itself, the “time-to-crime“: figures are, on average, 14 years.
This is hardly indicative of lax gun shops flouting the law. And yet this fact is curiously omitted in any coverage I’ve seen in the Post. On the other hand, anguished hand-wringing over lax US laws abounds in your editorials. Why is that?
Another blogger (amazing how bloggers are on top of this and yet most “mainstream media”, with the notable exception of Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, has mostly emulated the sound of crickets chirping) that has covered this story extensively writes here:
In closing, I refer back to the opening sentence of your editorial, and I must reply with a resounding “Yes!” Our policies are indeed a large cause of Mexico’s continuing violence. Just not the policies the Post thinks are relevant.
It’s getting to the point where I am ashamed to admit that I subscribe to the Washington post. In fact, were not for my wife’s intransigence, I would likely end my subscription entirely.
About Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc.
Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right. Visit: www.vcdl.org