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Previously Media Matters has noted gun lobby efforts to falsely suggest that guns used by Mexican cartels come from anywhere but the United States, except for the guns involved in the failed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operation Fast and Furious. During a visit to the National Rifle Association's (NRA) radio program Townhall.com's Katie Pavlich took the argument a step further, suggesting that we just get rid of all federal law enforcement efforts to stop gun trafficking to Mexico.
Riffing off NRA radio host Cam Edwards, Pavlich quipped that getting rid of the ATF and Department of Justice was the way to end gun trafficking to Mexico.
PAVLICH: My whole thing has always been through this process, you know, if you really want to stop trafficking of guns into Mexico from America get rid of ATF and DOJ because they are the number one supplier of guns to Mexican drug cartels at this point.
Pavlich's claim that the federal government is the top supplier of drug cartels is flat-out false. Overall 64,000 U.S. guns have been traced from Mexican crime scenes in the last five years. The ATF has seized more 10,000 firearms and more then 1.1. million rounds of ammunition headed to the southwest border in the same period. In the last 2 years on the Mexican side of the border, 20,504 or 70 percent of the total firearms submitted to be traced were U.S. sourced. In July The Washington Post reported 227 guns associated with Fast and Furious has been recovered in Mexico, which if included in the trace data for the last two years would be less than one percent of the total. During those same two years only one percent of the guns were traced to anywhere other than the United States.
You could dismiss the line as a joke, but Pavlich's suggestion to eliminate ATF and DOJ largely mirrors the attitude and faulty facts used by the gun lobby and the right-wing media. The loudest critic of Fast and Furious doesn't think the ATF is constitutional no matter what tactics it employs. The NRA has done everything in it's power to weaken the ATF and has showed sustained hostility to their mission. They've spent years blocking a permanent director for the ATF, including President Bush's nominee.
The suggestion that Fast and Furious guns constitute the vast majority of U.S. guns arming the cartels is absurd and ignores a serious and ongoing issue. Eliminating the ATF would eliminate virtually the only mechanism to prevent guns from being trafficked.
Many conservative states have few state laws enabling law enforcement to fight gun trafficking. As documented by Mayors Against Illegal Guns' Trace The Guns project, Arizona state law doesn't have a straw buying statute that would let state prosecutors target the criminals that bought the guns in the Fast and Furious operation. Without federal government efforts there's few mechanisms to fight gun trafficking, since states like Arizona show little interest in combating gun trafficking.