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WSJ: “GAO Ties U.S. Guns to Mexico Violence”

The Wall Street Journal reports that a new study by the Government Accountability Office says "most firearms recovered in drug violence in Mexico come from the U.S." The WSJ, which obtained and reviewed a draft of the study, says the full report is to be released later today.

This news might seem to confirm the claims made by President Barack Obama and others that "more than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States." But there is a difference between "most" and "more than 90 percent." The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has clarified, as we wrote in April, that the "90 percent" claim applies to the number of guns actually submitted by Mexican officials for tracing. But Mexico recovers more guns than it submits to the U.S. to be traced.

According to the WSJ, the GAO report says that "almost 30,000 weapons" were seized by Mexican law officials in 2008 but only about 7,200 were submitted to the agency for tracing. This fact has led many gun-rights groups and advocates to suggest that the remainder of the guns Mexico recovers must come from countries other than the U.S. However, the Journal notes that "despite the incomplete data," the GAO study concludes that "the U.S., and in particular the Southwest border states of Texas, California and Arizona, are the source of most weapons trafficked into Mexico."

We’ll be reviewing the GAO’s study once it is released and will update our earlier items (here and here) on the subject accordingly.