Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 11, 2011

Mexican Standoff: Justice Announces New Gun Rules for Border States

Filed under: Border Security,Investigation & Enforcement — by Jessica Herrera-Flanigan on July 11, 2011

The Administration announced today that the Justice Department will require firearms dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas to report to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), if an individual purchases -within 5 days – more than one semiautomatic rifle that takes a detachable magazine and uses ammunition greater than .22 caliber.  In a statement, Deputy Attorney General James Cole stated:

The international expansion and increased violence of transnational criminal networks pose a significant threat to the United States.  Federal, state and foreign law enforcement agencies have determined that certain types of semi-automatic rifles – greater than .22 caliber and with the ability to accept a detachable magazine – are highly sought after by dangerous drug trafficking organizations and frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest Border.  This new reporting measure — tailored to focus only on multiple sales of these types of rifles to the same person within a five-day period — will improve the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to detect and disrupt the illegal weapons trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce to criminals and criminal organizations.  These targeted information requests will occur in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas to help confront the problem of illegal gun trafficking into Mexico and along the Southwest Border.

The proposal is not completely a surprise, as the Federal Register published the proposal in December and then in late April, requesting public comment. The announcement comes after Congress has been investigating ATF’s operation “Fast and Furious” in Arizona.  The operation has been criticized as ATF allegedly allowed almost 2000 guns bought by straw purchasers in the U.S. to be sent to Mexico, despite the monitoring of the sales by ATF.  It is believed that two of the weapons linked to the program played a role in the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry last December.

The National Rifle Association has indicated that it plans to file suit against the government for the new rules.  The NRA claims that the Administration does not have the legal authority to enact the rules and that by doing so it is circumventing Congressional action.

What we have now is a Mexican standoff with neither side likely to budge on what it believes is needed to protect the border or protect gun owner rights, respectively.  A few observations:

The ongoing drug wars in Mexico are serious and guns are playing a significant role; that is true. Some population of those guns are originating from the U.S., though the exact percentage is unknown. Those for restricting gun sales have claimed it is up to 90 percent. Those against claim that number is an exaggeration, as not all the guns found in Mexico are sent back for tracing and that the actual number is in the teens.  Whatever the number, the ongoing violence is starting to seep over to the U.S. and all sides should not be quabbling over percentages but trying to find a solution to a problem that is not only in our backyard, but making its way through our backdoor.

That said, it is not clear how effective the new rules will be and whether they really address the larger problems associated with the escalating violence. As written, they only are enforceable for gun dealers within the border states.  Based on reports by GAO and others, while those states may have a higher percentage of guns sold that migrate to Mexico, they don’t represent 100% of guns traced back to the U.S.  Will putting this requirement in place only increase dubious sales at non-border states with “friendly” gun laws? Also, does ATF have the capacity to examine the increased reporting materials in a manner that will allow it to effectively identify which sales are linked to the drug wars and which are merely linked to individuals exercising their 2nd Amendment rights?  If the “Fast and Furious” project is any indication then the agency needs much improvement in this realm to ensure that the rules are an effective tool and not a burdensome requirement.

At the same time, as noted earlier, the violence in Mexico is worsening and seeping over into the U.S. and affecting border cities and U.S. citizens.  The NRA and others who support 2nd Amendment rights while protecting the rights they believe in should help the government come up with effective and systematic ways to keep guns out of the hands of those who would do harm to our citizens and our communities.

If we are truly going to address guns crossing the border- regardless of whether is 90 percent or 17 percent of the problem – we all need to work together.

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Comment by A Failed US Strategic Policy Towards Mexico

July 12, 2011 @ 5:15 am

It is time for this administration and Congress to give serious discussion to the problems Mexico poses to US interests…The clock is ticking and brder issues are especially challenging our border states.

A failed strategic policy making towards Mexico should prompt us to better determine how We can assist the government in Mexico more than We have thus far. Mexico should be a top priority for US policy makers and from my perspective, We have failed to stand behind the Mexican government officials w/the tools we make accessible to other governments – yes, we have afforded support, yet not enough and Mexico in the past, presently and certainly in the future poses many problems for us –

We must do more..to reach out more and help Mexico for if not, more challenges are certain to confront our border states –

While I am a gun Rights advocate and ardent supporter of NRA and the Right of all Americans to carry a gun for all lawful purpose and while this executive administration is quite intent on the contrary and an administration which I do not favor as I consider inept in every way, a President who should also be referred to as “double-double” as the apple does not fall far from the tree and his narrow perpsective and the dysfunctional manner in administration continues to erode our economic and global positions to the extent that We and our beloved Republic are at great jeopardy.

Again, while I care little for the President as I consider him far too shallow in his perspective and the same for his inexperienced WH staffers and certainly hope he will not be reelected to a second term, I feel even more confident that the present Congressional partisan ways and ineptness will cast our nation into a forthcoming depression…simply, for the most part, how we see the United States slipping in so many categories is a direct reflection of the idiots we have “entrusted” to – change – the course of this Nation we so love which seems headed into the rocks, devisive in so many ways!

Unfortunately, I feel the same towards most other governing globally and Mexico which stands to become even more vulnerable to less desireable….Well, let’s help our neighbor and do what we can to bolster defenses and help the government and good people of Mexico. A strong relatinship between the US and Mexico should have been forged long ago, not when we are bankrupted some $15 trillion times by the charade taking place by the bureaucrats….and their banking pals who have placed us all in jeopardy!

Let’s rally around the people of Mexico and confer much more closely with the officials of Mexico. We certainly know how to reach far away to help others who scoff at us.

All this effort and all this money into Iraq only to have the “Brutes of Tehran” come in as we depart and take full control of Iraq and look at all we could have done to help the people of Mexico.

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 12, 2011 @ 8:23 am

We will apparently have to wait for a future Administration to start making comprehensive revisions in USA relations with Mexico.

And by the way while the economic downturn in the USA seems to have halted some migration to the USA from Mexico this cannot be assumed for the long term.

If I was President I would ask my Cabinet to tell me how they would address a sudden MASS MIGRATION from Mexico with up to 20 million crossing the border within one year.

Personally I believe open revolution in Mexico will happen before the end of this decade. And that revolution will have been a result in part of USA ignorance and inepitude with respect to Mexico.

We are one people IMO!

Comment by Pancho Vanilla

July 12, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

Fast/Furious + Iran/Contra + NRA = Who’s the next Oliver North?

First of all, Jessica Herrera’s article is good. Not riveting; but worth confirming our government is going to do something; what that something is, remains to be seen. And the comments made by Messrs. Tingus and Cumming were good because they share everyone’s hope for a timely solution; to accomplish that – perhaps a Mexican revolution?


The author properly placed the Deputy Attorney General’s strategy out for “U.S.”: “These targeted information requests will occur in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.” I am almost certain he means – without saying it – the “El Paso Fusion Center” (EPFC) or other Fusion Centers along the border. I could be wrong, but he could have identified them (Fusion Centers) because the Department of Homeland Security is pretty proud to showcase the EPFC last January. These fusion centers will face some legal challenges, but I’m watching the numbers, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP)and a host of others under the Department of Justice are going to work well together.

Arrests are being made more frequently and effectively today due in part to the members of our intelligence community. Some 650+ strong and bringing down with them with Predator drones. We “tap” our mexican counterparts on the should and say: “El Mamito is over here; go get him.” Then a white sheet is slipped in front of a Mexicanm a Special Forces Commanderthe “Erasmo” and a stronger; more earnest focus on capturing and charging

Mr. Cumming’s comment about a “revolution” was once something I thought – at least for a time. I have finally decided another Mexican Revolution will be unlikely and here’s why…

I have lived in Mexico and been to places most Americans would never want or care to visit; I didn’t even want to but my adoptive stepfather and his business partner had me lives in the Mexican United States (Estados Unidos de la Republica Mexicana) of Copahuila, Durango, Zacatecas. Anything communicated in English in those days were on a billboard. (Coke,Purina Sony…)

No matter when, or who, or why – these character attributes came out at all times – a predictable and solemn respect for authority and they know their respective “places” on the social ladder of life. For instance the use of the “formal” (usted/ustedes) means something; it’s called “humitity”.

Has anyone heard of any massive violent outbreaks or heard of any new revolutionary leaders in Mexico lately? Any new agendas? No… A population of around 113,000,000, and spread out over sixteen states with different dialects? Probably not… For one thing President Calderon firmly “stuck it to Congress” when he spoke from the Capitol in May 2010. He culled favor with Mexican already here and the families who they supported by blasting the Arizona law, but – and trust me, I played the game – he stuck the knife in a bit further – reminding our own lawmakers Mexico created more than 400,000 jobs in 2010 didn’t have to bail out their own financial institutions or some of the private sector.

Mexican people won’t start a revolution; we on the other hand…

So I don’t see a revolution coming in Mexico; I see a civil war not between law abiding Mexicans; I see it as being launched against the cartels.

The cartels don’t just sell dope, they smuggle human cargo and then rip off the very people they smuggle out of Mexico! As soon as the migrants get close to the border,grown men are stripped of their clothing; cartel members begin demanding a the phone number of the frightened man’s family “back home”, then the call – the kidnap and ransom call…

Like the thugs during Prohibition, the Zeta cartel is going to develop a more diverse portfolio; pirating CDs and DVDs, fleecing money from local shops or market owners

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 13, 2011 @ 5:11 am

The historical analysis that premises revolutions on periods of rising expectations seems to have merit IMO!

What are the expectations of Mexicans that have lived some portion of their lives in the USA?

Comment by Donald Quixote

July 19, 2011 @ 11:10 pm

If nothing else, this policy reaction to the dubious the Fast and Furious operation shall be an economic boost for firearms dealers in Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma and other neighboring states.

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