I think Mark Twain once wrote that there are "lies, damn lies, and statistics," an ascending hierarchy of excrable mendacity.One of those in the top level, statistics, is the mantra we are hearing from the mainstream press and "progressive" politicians: 90 percent of firearms confiscated from drug cartels in Mexico are purchased in the United States.It ain't so.I don't care if Mexican President Felipe Calderon said it to President Obama this week. I don't care if The Obama Himself repeated it later. So did the New York Times. I think ABC News wanted to, but somehow refrained in a lament they put together on how the renewal of the so-called Assault Weapons Ban was indefinitely postponed. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder managed to avoid repeating the 90 percent number but then claimed it was a "vast majority."The 90 percent number is one of those twisted stats that has been repeated so many times that the intellectually lazy, the ignorant and the wilfully deceitful declare it to be true.The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, in testimony before Congress, said as best they could tell, the real number is about 17 percent. That's right. Less than one in five.The Washington Post highlighted an online interview with Professor George Grayson, author of "Mexico's Struggle With Drugs & Thugs," and Grayson -- no friend of the National Rifle Association or, for that matter, a traditional interpretation of the Second Amendment -- reaffirmed the 17 percent number. Here is the Q&A:
[A caller from] Woodbridge, Va.: What will it take for the Obama administration to stop pushing this bogus statistic that 90 percent of the guns used by the cartels are from the U.S.? That number only includes guns that are traceable by the ATF and excludes the overwhelming majority of guns that are untraceable and come from Guatemala, China, and Africa. The real number is only 17 percent.
George Grayson: An extremely astute point. The 90 percent figure applies only to weapons that have been traced. Many firearms captured by police go in one door of the police headquarters and out the backdoor. I try to make you point in media appearances.
Grayson later conceded the 17 percent figure might not be accurate, but added it could not be 90 percent. He also said:
Even if the U.S. and Mexico stopped all southbound flow of weapons, the cartels have so much money that they would obtain sophisticated arms from Russia, Central America, and other areas.
Gun rights rocker Ted Nugent makes a good point about Mexico's gun problem:
I’ll tell you where 90% of the gangbangers firepower comes from. All that artillery is supplied by the demonically corrupt Mexican government, their own “law enforcement” gangs and from places like China, Venezuela and an unstoppable pipeline of uncontrolled gunrunners from countries where guns are virtually banned from private citizens.
Mexican residents are not allowed to keep and bear arms, so based on law, Mexico should be a gun-free zone. Guess how that worked out for them? About as well as it has in Afghanistan.
In fact, a good case could be made that one of the reasons Mexican drug cartels have free rein in much of that country is that the average citizen is unarmed and defenseless against them.
There are two solid bullet points about the situation with the heavily armed Mexican drug cartels.
1. There is no doubt at all where they get most of their money. From drug users in the United States. With this money they buy weapons, much of it more sophisticated than anything they could get from an American gun show (or would even want). They also use this money to corrupt politicians, law enforcement officials and even military brass in Mexico (and possibly, I suspect, north of the border as well).
The best thing that could happen to reform Mexican politics and drive the drug cartels out of existence would be for either a) U.S. drug use to stop overnight or b) the U.S. dollar to collapse. I like Option A, but I don't think the Obama administration is serious about curbing drug use. I hate Option B, and I fear that the Obama Administration is hell-bent on achieving this objective eventually.
2. The first and best answer to halting the flow of drugs north and weapons, however many they be, southward, would be to get serious about defending the southern border of the U.S. including finishing the fence we were promised three years ago. If that means amending the law so that U.S. military operations could operate to police the border, then by all means let us do so.
If Mexico doesn't like this operation, that would be just too bad. You can't have it both ways. We can't be the evil villain because we don't police our borders effectively, and be the evil villain because we police our borders too well.
Two much ballyhooed "solutions" are problematic. One is the Merida Initiative passed by Congress last year that would give Mexico $1.4 billion in crime fighting aid, including arms and helicopters. Unfortunately, earlier similar efforts largely failed. One, in southern Mexico, essentially created the Zetas, as military personnel trained and equipped by the U.S. defected and became part of what is now arguably one of Mexico's most fiercesome outlaw gangs. I would hate to see a similar failure.
The second proposed solution is the one that President Obama discussed with Mr. Calderon last week: a treaty covering Latin America that would attempt to impose international gun control efforts on the signatories. I think any international treaty that potentially infringes on the rights of individual American citizens is a non-starter. The last resort to international law is what happens when progressives have failed to bring about a change in laws through the legislative and judicial branches. They look for the executive branch for a fix that can't be adjudicated.
Finally, back to that 90 percent versus 17 percent issue: Can we at least agree that the truth is important?
On the Seinfeld TV show, the character George Costanza once advised Jerry on how to pass a polygraph, "It's not a lie if you believe it."
The Costanza Corollary, as I define it, is when the media and politicians operate under the assumption that "It's not a lie as long as we can get you to believe it."
Ninety percent of Mexican drug cartels weapons ARE NOT originating in the United States. To say otherwise is a lie. A damn lie. And a statistic.
Labels: Drugs, Guns, Mexico, The Costanza Corollary