Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Questions for WaPost Hoplophobes

I would not have noticed the blatant editorialization (as opposed to genuine news reporting) in As Mexico Drug Violence Runs Rampant, U.S. Guns Tied to Crime South of Border by Washington Post Hoplophobes James Grimaldi and Sari Horwitz, except that I found it summarized at Newsmax last night.  I notice that since David Codrea exposed Newmax's repetition of the WaPost muck at The War on Guns, Newsmax has dropped the link from its front page. Go read the WaPost editorialization here, then see if you agree that the following questions need to be answered by Grimaldi and Horwitz.

1)  They mention that certain data is confidential under a law passed by Congress in 2003.  Are they referring to the Tiahrt Amendment?  If they are, why don't they just come out and say so.  I get the feeling that these two hoplophobes are using the old journalistic trick of injecting mystery into their editorialization to attract attention.  They act as if they know something we don't, that they are privileged to know, and that we should just trust them to explain the mystery without them having to produce a source.  If these two pseudo-reporters are referring to the Tiahrt Amendment, it is the same law that provides for gun trace data to law enforcement when a gun has been  recovered in a crime investigation, but prohibits law enforcement from peeking into gun transfer records to determine what guns are owned by law-abiding citizens.  The gun trace data allowed by the Tiahrt Amendment are the likely source of information obtained by Grimaldi and Horwitz.

2)  If this information is confidential, how did Grimaldi and Horwitz obtain it?  Are they BATFE stooges?  It's not enought to say they reviewed documents and court cases.  Cite the sources, or your "reporting" is suspect.

3)  Grimaldi and Horwitz state that FFL dealer Bill Carter's Carter's Country stores are the sellers of guns found at Mexican crime scenes.  Was Carter's Country the last recorded seller or somewhere in the stream of transfers?

4)  Who were the last recorded purchasers of the guns and were the guns stolen?  What "transfers", both legal and illegal, occurred after the recorded transfers at Carter's Country?

5)  What definition are Grimaldi and Horwitz using for "high-powered"?  My understanding of the term does not include intermediate rounds such as .223 Remington/5.56x45 and 7.62 x 39.  Grimaldi and Horwitz appear to be referring to these rounds as high-powered.  Are they doing so to inflame the reader against guns chambered for these rounds?

6)  What do Grimaldi and Horwitz mean when they refer to AR-15 and AK-47 rifles as "assault rifles"?  Assault rifles in the military context are selective-fire or full-auto.  Besides mixing the apples and oranges of semi-auto AR-15's and presumably full-auto AK-47's, are Grimaldi and Horwitz simply confused or trying to confuse the reader. 

7)  Do Grimaldi and Horwitz know that AK-47's are Class III firearms and that Carter's Country was not likely licensed as a Class III dealer?  Do they even know what Carter's Country was licensed to sell?  Would they tell the reader the truth even if they did know?

8)  What is the source of Grimaldi's and Horwitz's claim that Mexican drug cartels are turning to the U.S. for their supply of guns?  Do Grimaldi and Horwitz even know that under most circumstances Mexican nationals cannot purchase firearms from FFL dealers?

9)  Are Grimaldi and Horwitz alleging that FFL dealers in Texas, and in particular Bill Carter, are selling firearms to Mexican nationals/non-U.S. citizens in violation of federal law?  What information do they have that such transactions are actually occurring?

10)  If criminal drug cartels from Mexico are obtaining firearms in the United States, what is the federal government doing to prevent Mexican criminals from entering the United States and illegally obtaining guns here?

11)  Since state-issued identification is required to purchase guns from any FFL dealer in every state in the United States, how many states are issuing state identification cards and drivers licenses to non-citizens?   How many non-citizens have used these state-issued identification cards and licenses to purchase guns from FFL dealers?  How many governmental entitities have approved purchases by non-citizens under the the mandatory (for FFL dealers) instant-check system?

12)  How many of these guns were purchased by entities or persons affiliated with the United States government?

13)  When Grimaldi and Horwitz refer to laws supported by the "gun lobby" which supposedly make prosecutions of law-breaking FFL dealers difficult, who is the "gun lobby" and what laws are they referring to?

14)  If Carter's Country is one of the largest volume firearm dealers in Texas, just what percentage of their sales are involved in crimes?  What percentage of sales are never involved in crimes?  Can Grimaldi and Horwitz actually show a causal connection between any behavior by Carter's Country and the guns found in Mexico, or just a conclusion based on innuendo?

15)  If there is no indication that any of the FFL dealers, cited as the source of guns in Mexico, did anything wrong, what is the point?  It sure does not seem to be that the government is competent at arresting Mexican drug cartel members and illegal aliens.

16)  Do Grimaldi and Horwitz even understand what a straw-purchaser is?  Have either of them ever examined the form that must be completed by a firearm purchaser?  Purchasing a firearm for one's spouse is not considered a straw purchase.  The form that must be completed by the purchaser asks if the purchaser is the actual buyer.  Obviously, lying about this is a crime.  That is where the problem lies, no pun intended.

17)  Considering that BATFE routinely harasses FFL holders, including threats of revoking licenses (and actually succeeding) for minor paperwork errors, why should anyone believe that BATFE lacks the ability to investigate and prosecute FFL dealers who violate the law?  For instances of abusive and extralegal conduct by the BATFE in its investigations, consider the fates of the General Store in Spokane, Washington and Red's Trading Post in Idaho.  If anyone still doubts the power of the federal government to investigate illegal firearm transfers, consider what happened in Ruby Ridge, Idaho in 1993.

18)  Grimaldi and Horwitz imply that FFL dealers are the problem.  To what degree did they investigate the failure of the U.S. government to enforce the immigration laws and the border with Mexico?  It seems that preventing illegal aliens from entering the U.S. and having tough border controls would prevent a substantial amount of the supposed gun trafficking.  It could reasonably argued that a substantial amount of the blame could be placed squarely on the U.S. government, and Janet Napolitano in particularly, for the utter failure to prevent illegal aliens from freely crossing the border, with and without guns.

19)  Why is there little mention of the extensive corruption throughout the Mexican government, including the complicity of Mexican police in drug and weapons trafficking?  It seems that Mexican President Calderon could clean house, enforce its side of the border, and take on the drug cartels.  Mexico is loudly attacking a symptom of a larger problem that it has the power to control, but lacks the will to do much more than complain to the U.S.

20)  Why do Mexicans not have the right to possess firearms for self-defense?  Is there government of the side of the people or the drug cartels.  Denying citizens the ability to defend themselves against organized crime indicates which side the Mexican goverment is on.

There are many other questions I have after reading the work of Grimaldi and Horwitz, but I figure that 20 questions is enough.  My point is that every trumped-up account of guns found in Mexico tries to lay the blame on FFL dealers who are stringently regulated and have no more control over the end use of the product than a sporting goods store does over a Louisville Slugger.  So-called reporters rarely seem to turn the scrutiny back on to their government sources, for whom these "reporters" are often nothing more than sycophants.

Of course, the aforementioned commentary consists of my opinion.  Many years ago I had some training in journalism and I work in the legal profession, so I am not making any claim to objectivity.  Nor am I making a claim to being a Washington Post news reporter.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for giving this information! FFL dealers normally charge a small fee to handle your incoming firearm transfer.

    Class 3 License Guide