Thursday, December 15, 2011

How much bullshit can you squeeze into one Guardian UK article?

Chris McGreal wrote a real hack piece for the Guardian UK last week.  
Early into it he quotes Kristen Rand, the foremost authority on why US gun laws cause Mexican gangs to kill people.  
Kristen Rand, director of the Violence Policy Centre, which campaigns for greater gun control, said drug traffickers faced little more than a few logistical difficulties in buying weapons in the US. "If you wanted to design a set of laws to encourage gun trafficking, that is what the US has done. The traffickers can access a high volume of assault weapons, sniper rifles, armour-piercing handguns. All the weapons they need to wage war are readily available on the civilian market."
Last I checked, Kristen, federal law makes it a crime to buy a firearm if you are not the actual buyer.  I know this, because every time I buy a gun from an FFL, I have to check a box and sign my name on a form that says I am the actual buyer.  Trafficking is already illegal.  One more law won't help.

Here's a flat out lie:
It is even easier to buy ammunition. Although many states demand a driver's licence to buy common types of cold medicine that can also be used to manufacture methamphetamine, not a single state requires identification to purchase ammunition, even in large quantities.
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where I live, a seller of ammunition is required by law to check the buyer's firearms license (FID or LTC).  A drivers license or library card won't suffice - it must be a gun license.   I know this because I have to present my LTC every time I buy ammo.  If I don't show it, the clerk won't sell me ammo.  Why did this make it past the many layers of editorial oversight at the Guardian? 

Another flat out lie:
According to the US Government Accountability Office, 87% of firearms seized by Mexico over the past five years were traced to the US.
Why is this a lie?  It's a lie because the percentage uses the wrong denominator.   Here's the correct statement for the 87% figure:  Of firearms seized in Mexico AND submitted for tracing to the BATFE, 87% were traced to the US.  

Suppose 10,000 guns are seized by authorities in Mexico, of which 9,000 appear to be military weapons from, say, Costa Rica; and 1,000 of which are semiauto pistols and rifles which could very well have been trafficked into the US.  The federales will only submit the 1,000 plausibly-American guns to BATFE for testing, and 870/1,000 will be traced to the US.

It is wrong and deceitful to say that 87% (870/1000) of guns seized in Mexico are traced to the US, because it ignores the 9,000 guns bought from Central America that Mexican authorities don't bother tracing.  The correct percentage, for the way Chris McGreal phrased it, would be 870/10000, or 8.7%.  Whatever the exact percentage is, it's a small fraction of the 87% figure.  Why are journalist so dense about this?

This excerpt is just flat out confusing:
A report by the US Senate's narcotics control caucus in June said: "Congress has been virtually moribund while powerful Mexican drug-trafficking organisations continue to gain unfettered access to military-style firearms coming from the US. The reason [better gun control] doesn't happen is because the National Rifle Association owns Congress," said Rand.
So, is the US Senate saying this, or is Kristen Rand saying it?  Is the US Senate actually complaining that it can't enact gun control because the NRA owns the Senate?  Or is McGreal quoting Rand reading from a report?  I'm so confused.

Then comes the concealed carry bogeyman:

"Congress is right now ­working to pass legislation to loosen the restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons. There's no will, no leadership from the White House."

What the ongoing wonderful liberalization of CCW laws in the US has to do with Mexican drug dealers, I have no idea.  Neither does McGreal or Rand.

J Dewey Webb, the ATF agent who's doing a bang-up job in chasing gun traffickers, pulls a bizarre statement out of his ass:
"Every person that pays for that marijuana, that meth, that cocaine is paying for the tools of the trade, which are guns. Those people buying the drugs are just as responsible as the people buying those guns and just as responsible as the people pulling the triggers in Mexico."
I'm pretty sure that smoking pot or doing a little blow is not the moral equivalent of murdering people to protect or expand your drug turf.  Way to be a blowhard though. 

We finally finish this abortion of an article with a whiny, dishonest quote from Mexican president Felip Calderon:
Mexico's president sees it differently: "Why does this arms business continue?" Calderon said in June. "I say it openly: it's because of the profit which the US arms industry makes."
Yes, Phil, like most business they try to turn a profit.  Nice insight. 


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