April 22, 2008

ABC News Caught Lying About Guns... Again

I've really had it with ABC News and Brian Ross.

Last year in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, Ross and the crack staff of The Blotter lied about the effect 1994 Crime Bill as it related to pistol magazines used by the shooter, refused to issue a retraction, and deleted blog comments warning them of how wrong they were while continuing to get basic facts of the case wrong through carelessness.

Today, Ross and accomplice Richard Esposito continue that fine ABC News tradition of making up the news, in a story claiming that the U.S. Second Amendment is to blame for Mexico's drug cartel problems.

The deception starts with the picture at the beginning of the article.

The focus of the story, according to ABC News, is that U.S. dealers of civilian firearms are to blame for Mexico's drug cartels and their violence problems... so why do they highlight an M60 general purpose machine gun, a weapons still in use in Mexico's military, but impossible to find in the open U.S. civilian market?

From that visual deception, we'll transition to outright lie number one in the text, an attempt to smear the Bush Administration:

Assault weapons made in China and Eastern Europe, resembling the AK-47, have become widely and cheaply available in the U.S. since Congress and the Bush administration refused to extend a ban on such weapons in 2004.

AK-pattern rifles were legal to own or import during the entire life of the 1994-2004 "Crime Bill," something that Ross knows for a fact... or should. This claim is a blatant falsehood.

The only effect of the law was to outlaw the importation or manufacture of certain specific firearms by name, and cosmetic features found on other firearms, without banning their manufacture, important, or purchase once these features were removed or replaced. The result was that the same functioning firearms were imported the day after the "ban" went into effect without a bayonet lug or flashhider, and with a thumbhole stock instead of a pistol grip. Functionally, the weapons were identical, with no reduction in firepower, magazine capacity, controlability, or or lethality. The "Crime Bill" outlawed virtually nothing, and was merely a fig-leaf for anti-gun politicians.

As for Bush, he was in favor of extending the ban. ABC News failed to get that fact correct, either, even though checking it would have taken less than ten seconds on Google.

Now, to the second visual deception by ABC News. Once again, this article is about how common U.S. civilian weapons are being used by Mexican drug cartels.

So why does ABC News insist on displaying highly-restricted SBRs (short-barreled rifles), automatic weapons, what appears to be no less than 4 M-203 grenade launchers, and at least 20 40mm grenades, military hardware not readily available on the civilian market?

Once again, they post pictures designed to deceive, but we're not quite done with ABC's print deceptions, either.

The drug cartels' weapons of choice include variants of the AK-47, .50-caliber sniper rifles and a Belgian-made pistol called the 'cop killer' or 'mata policia' because of its ability to pierce a bulletproof vest.

"It's in high demand by your violent drug cartels, their assassins in Mexico," said Newell of the ATF. The gun can fire a high-powered round used in a rifle. "

Again, more fiction, aided and abetted by a law enforcement officer that is either incompetent, or who is as dishonest as ABC News.

The FN Five-seveN (their punctuation, not mine) does not fire rifle bullets as the article claims. It fires a tiny 5.7mm personal defense round designed for light carbines, submachine guns and pistols.

It is not any more armor-piercing than many other pistol cartridges, and less powerful than all centerfire rifle cartridges. Furthermore for the 5.7 cartridge to be truly armor-piercing, it must fire special ammunition that is only available to military and law enforcement sources.

There are multiple inaccuracies in this story that display outright incompetence on the part of ABC News, or a willful desire to deceive. Based upon prior performance, the blatantness of the misrepresentations that far surpass simple incompetence, and a pattern of deleting comments that point out their errors in the past, an attempt to willfully defraud ABC News consumers should be inferred in this article until mere incompetence can be proven.

It may well be true that civilian weapons are making their way across the border into Mexico, but that does not give ABC News the right to manufacture or misrepresent evidence to increase their story's impact.

Update: Warner Todd Huston notes yet another fabrication in an earlier version of the ABC News story.

Also made minor edits to the text to further clarify that M60s, SBRs, and machine guns are not readily available on the open market as ABC News implies. Such firearms are heavily regulated under the National Firearms Act.

Update: Story video here.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 22, 2008 10:57 PM
AK-pattern rifles were illegal to own or import during the entire life of the 1994-2004 "Crime Bill"...

Typo? Did you mean "were legal to own"?

Posted by: JavaMan at April 22, 2008 11:43 PM

I thought that Hugo Chavez was finishing up an AK-47 factory in Venezuela. He's certainly supplying ammo to FARC. What makes anyone think that the full-auto Mexican AK-47s came from America, where they are illegal, when Venezuela just bought 100,000 of the suckers that we know about? How many did Chavez buy in secret with his Citgo/Petro money? And how many will he have to spare when the factory is up and running?

Posted by: Wolf Pangloss at April 23, 2008 12:02 AM

Javaman's right. You could buy AK-looking rifles in the US under the ban. Didn't matter - they still only represent only a fraction of a percentage of weapons used in crimes. They just look scary to those not familiar with them. It's less dangerous than a gallon of gasoline... (see Happy Land Fire)

The 5.7 is about the same as a .22 Magnum. And while the cartels may call it whatever they like, Mexican police run around with M16s. The Mexican police don't have laws to follow like US law enforcement. Anybody who's ever had to fork over a $20 to pass an impromptu checkpoint knows just how that works.

Keep in mind the cartels and the police are the same thing a lot of places, so any complaint the mexican govt. has is usually just because they've lost a monopoly on corrupt force in an area.

The cartels raided an armory in Sonora a couple years back and all those military grade weapons went straight into their personal armories. An RPG launcher (or 2 or 3) made its way from Mexico to the US to be picked up by Border Patrol.

It's easy to understand Mexico's gun-hatred. If those pesky natives down in Yucatan were armed, it would've been a longer war of extermination.

Posted by: ST at April 23, 2008 12:31 AM

Wolf--I think you're on to something:

Posted by: See-Dubya at April 23, 2008 02:12 AM
Typo? Did you mean "were legal to own"?

Correct. Fixed.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 23, 2008 03:41 AM

I had no idea the antis were in a snit over the Five-seveN. I will definitely be buying one now and maybe a matching PS90 to go with it.

Posted by: ka at April 23, 2008 09:32 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 04/23/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Posted by: David M at April 23, 2008 12:09 PM

I wondered what the real story was... my wife was watching the news as I was making dinner.

My thought was that if we had real border control, most of that sort of problem (if it existed) would go away.

Posted by: Jeff at April 23, 2008 01:52 PM

What did you expect? At least with ABC news, you are not disappointed. No one expects any better from them. I guess that is why fewer and fewer people watch them. I never do.

Posted by: George Bruce at April 23, 2008 02:32 PM

I guarantee ATF and/or ICE will use this kind of sophistry to argue for ever-greater firepower using the old "out-gunned" ruse that has almost completely militarized law enforcement in America.

Posted by: MeckDeck at April 23, 2008 04:30 PM

"has almost completely militarized law enforcement in America."

And that's wrong how???

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at April 23, 2008 05:02 PM

MeckDeck, may one assume from your comments that you'd rather see the criminals better armed than the cops?

I imagine you're too young to remember the North Hollywood Shootout, where the cops literally had to go to a local gun store to get the firepower to deal with a pair of gunmen. After all, it only happened in 1997.

Posted by: C-C-G at April 23, 2008 05:39 PM

Bzzzt. Wrong all around. Anymore exceptions to prove the rule that far too many departments have tact'ed up at the expense of actual effective police-work?

Jewelers have tools, so do building-demo guys. They are not interchangeable.

Posted by: MeckDeck at April 23, 2008 06:32 PM

In case anyone missed the meaning of the reference to $20 import permits ... I'm within 60 miles of the border, haven't crossed it in twenty years, prices have gone up ... in my day, you handed $10 to the Mexican border guard, and he didn't inspect your car. You might have a trunkful of AKs and explosive, but for $10 you got them in. Any place that has that situation really is in no position to complain.

(In my day, you didn't tender $20 because then he'd think you really did have something, and might search. But the weakening of the dollar has I supposed changed the going rate.)

Posted by: Dave Hardy at April 23, 2008 08:34 PM

Linked by Stubborn Facts. Thanks once again for the good work, Bob.

Posted by: Tully at April 23, 2008 08:54 PM

How about you show the evidence that supports your conclusion first, MeckDeck?

I'm sure you can find some, and not from known anti-gun sites.

Once you show your evidence, I'll be happy to debate you.

Of course, if you don't have any, I'll just assume you're just another gun-fearing lefty talking out of your backside, and treat you accordingly.

Your move. Evidence or ridicule. Take your pick.

Posted by: C-C-G at April 23, 2008 09:03 PM

CI, C-C-G,

MeckDeck is absolutely correct. Many law enforcement agencies have militarized beyond their actual needs, using homeland security monies to purchase tactical weapons systems for average patrol officers that are not warranted by the crimes common to their area.

North Hollywood is a great example proving his point. One incident in one city in a nation of 300 million, 11 years ago, does not justify the near-universal militarization of American police.

Of course, if you still want evidence, I can direct you to a number of sites that agree with MeckDeck. Instapundit Glenn Reynolds is one, and you happen to be on another right now.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 23, 2008 09:24 PM

I'm not saying it justifies, for example, Ottumwa, Iowa getting an APC, CY, but surely examples like North Hollywood are cause for at least some increase in firepower for the average cop in areas where such crimes are likely to occur.

I am not--I say again, NOT--advocating the various police forces becoming militias, merely stating that the police need weapons to deal with what they are likely to find in their average patrol area.

However, neither am I advocating US police forces taking up the British model of no guns in the hands of patrol officers at all, and I think you'd agree with that, CY.

Posted by: C-C-G at April 23, 2008 09:43 PM

The North Hollywood shootout was perplexing to me. If you listen to the radio tapes you hear one officer utter this incredible and nonsensical statement: "They've got A K forty sevens - NOTHING WE HAVE CAN STOP THEM!!" Does anyone understand that logic? They have an automatic weapon - therefore, we can't take a defensive position, like behind the huge brick wall that lined the street, and take a head shot with our 9mm sidearms? I don't get it.

Posted by: Unclebryan at April 23, 2008 10:05 PM
I'm not saying it justifies, for example, Ottumwa, Iowa getting an APC, CY, but surely examples like North Hollywood are cause for at least some increase in firepower for the average cop in areas where such crimes are likely to occur.

Uh, no.

One isolated incident over a decade ago is not a valid excuse. Patrol officers are already armed with high-capacity service pistols, multiple magazines of ammunition for said pistols, various less-lethal weapons systems, radios to call more individuals similarly armed, and hours of taxpayer-funded training on how to use all of it in the most effective manner possible.

That have far more force than they are likely to encounter already.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 23, 2008 10:06 PM

It's not hard to see what MeckDeck is getting at here. 'Militarizing' police creates an us vs. them attitude in which all citizens are suspect. Civilian policing--I'll go ahead and call it the Andy Griffith model--depends on support from the law-abiders among us. North Hollywood might even be taken as an exemplar. A sheriff who knows who his local machine-gun hobbyists are does not need to keep Ma Deuce in the trunk, when several are a cell-phone call away. I'm a military vehicle hobbyist myself, so believe me when I tell you that there's not a privately-owned tank in this nation that's not at the beck and call of the county posse--if they only think to ask. The big Armed Forces Day military vehicle show in my corner of the state is personally sponsored by a county sheriff, and I've got to think the old fox knows what he's doing with that.

Posted by: comatus at April 23, 2008 10:11 PM

Well, we're gonna have to agree to disagree on that one, Bob.

Posted by: C-C-G at April 23, 2008 10:41 PM

Who watches ABC News anymore...

Posted by: LeftCoastRighty at April 24, 2008 12:53 AM

Yeah, despising the fact that ATF and the various local SWAT ninjas have on multiple occasions caused thousands of dollars in property damage, raided the wrong places multiple times, planted evidence, conspired to cover up their mistakes, charged law abiding citizens with defending their homes, and killed innocent people because of their inability to read a street sign does not make one a "gun-fearing lefty talking out of your backside".

The citizens are supposed to outgun the government, not the other way around.

Posted by: Britt at April 24, 2008 02:02 AM

TO: Confederate Yankee


'nuff said....


[Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not. -- Thomas Jefferson]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at April 24, 2008 06:37 AM

Sigh. Bush, as president, never said he approved of extending the assault weapons ban nor did he ever say he would sign such a bill.

The closest to this claim one can get is an off-hand remark, never repeated, by the president's press secretary Ari Fleischer.

The statement: "As for Bush, he was in favor of extending the ban" is, at best, misleading.

Posted by: Ymal Brucker at April 24, 2008 06:51 AM

Ymal, your statement :

"The closest to this claim one can get is an off-hand remark, never repeated, by the president's press secretary Ari Fleischer"

Is wrong on several points. It was Scott McClellan who made the ststement. And it was repeated, by none other than Diane Feinstein, in the Senate record.

[http://feinstein.senate dot gov/04Speeches/assault%20weapons%20ban%203%201.htm]

As I can't find any record of Bush or his Administration correcting Scott or Diane, I have to believe whether or not the remark was off-hand, it was truthful.

So, between your word, and the facts, I gotta beleive my own lying eyes here.

Thanks for playing, though.

Posted by: Dark Jethro at April 24, 2008 07:41 AM

Ymal Brucker:

The statement: "As for Bush, he was in favor of extending the ban" is, at best, misleading.

The ad also claims that Bush "will let the assault weapon ban expire," which is misleading. In fact, Bush spoke in support of the ban during his campaign four years ago and his spokesman said as recently as May of last year that he still supported it. It was Congress that failed to consider extending the ban and didn't present Bush with a bill to sign.

Washington Post:

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said that Bush "supports the reauthorization of the current assault weapons ban." She noted that "the president's views are well known" among GOP leaders in Congress.

NY Times:

President Bush and the National Rifle Association, long regarded as staunch allies, find themselves unlikely adversaries over one of the most significant pieces of gun-control legislation in the last decade, a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons.

At issue is a measure to be introduced by Senate Democrats on Thursday to continue the ban. Groundbreaking 1994 legislation outlawing the sale and possession of such firearms will expire next year unless Congress extends it, and many gun-rights groups have made it their top priority to fight it. Even some advocates of gun control say the prohibition has been largely ineffective because of its loopholes.

Despite those concerns, the White House says Mr. Bush supports the extension of the current law -- a position that has put him in opposition to the N.R.A. and left many gun owners angry and dumbfounded.

''This is a president who has been so good on the Second Amendment that it's just unbelievable to gun owners that he would really sign the ban,'' said Grover G. Norquist, a leading conservative and an N.R.A. board member who opposes the weapons ban. ''I don't think it's sunk in for a lot of people yet.''

Advocates on both sides of the issue say the White House appears to have made a bold political calculation: that the risk of alienating a core constituency is outweighed by appearing independent of the gun lobby, sticking to a campaign promise and supporting a measure that has broad popular appeal. The president has claimed the middle road -- supporting an extension of the current ban but not endorsing the stronger measures that gun-control supporters say would outlaw many ''copycat'' assault weapons. That position has forced Democrats in the Senate to reject plans for a more ambitious weapons ban.

Mr. Bush's position ''cuts against the N.R.A.'s position,'' said Michael Franc, vice president of government relations at the conservative Heritage Foundation, ''and it will put the president -- for one of the first times since he signed the campaign finance reform bill -- at odds with his own political base.''

''He's built up enough positive political capital in other areas that it won't be fatal,'' Mr. Franc added, but the issue could hurt Mr. Bush in Middle America, considered critical to his re-election chances in 2004.

The assault-weapons issue puts the president in a precarious political spot. When Mr. Bush was campaigning for president in 2000, a top N.R.A. official boasted that the group's relationship with Mr. Bush was so ''unbelievably friendly'' that the N.R.A. could practically claim a seat at the White House. The N.R.A. has been a major donor to Mr. Bush, and the gun lobby and the Bush administration have been in lock step on most major gun issues, including the current push to limit lawsuits against gun manufacturers. The Justice Department under Attorney General John Ashcroft has been a particularly close ally of the gun lobby, pushing an expanded view of gun rights under the Second Amendment and initiating law enforcement changes sought by the N.R.A.

But White House officials said the assault-weapons ban was one case in which the president and the N.R.A. did not see eye to eye.

''There are times when we agree and there are times when we disagree,'' said Scott McClellan, a White House spokesman. ''The president makes decisions based on what he believes is the right policy for Americans.'' Mr. McClellan added that the ban was put in place as a way of deterring crime and that Mr. Bush ''felt it was reasonable.''

CPD: 10-13-2004 Bush/Kerry Debate Transcript

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, new question, two minutes.

You said that if Congress would vote to extend the ban on assault weapons, that you'd sign the legislation, but you did nothing to encourage the Congress to extend it. Why not?

BUSH: Actually, I made my intentions -- made my views clear. I did think we ought to extend the assault weapons ban, and was told the fact that the bill was never going to move, because Republicans and Democrats were against the assault weapon ban, people of both parties.

I believe law-abiding citizens ought to be able to own a gun. I believe in background checks at gun shows or anywhere to make sure that guns don't get in the hands of people that shouldn't have them.

But the best way to protect our citizens from guns is to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns.

And that's why early in my administration I called the attorney general and the U.S. attorneys and said: Put together a task force all around the country to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns.

And the prosecutions are up by about 68 percent -- I believe -- is the number.

Neighborhoods are safer when we crack down on people who commit crimes with guns.

To me, that's the best way to secure America.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 24, 2008 07:43 AM


statement, not ststement.

typing too fast for conditions again...

Posted by: Dark Jethro at April 24, 2008 07:44 AM

C-C-G, I agree with you, give the cops howitzers for all I care. That would put an end to those car chases in California :)

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at April 24, 2008 08:15 AM

shhhhh, dont let ABC find out that some of us handloaders are necking the FN 5.7x28mm case down to 14cal. They might "think" that we are up to something counter-liberal.

Posted by: Joe Buzz at April 24, 2008 08:53 AM

Patrol officers are already armed with high-capacity service pistols, multiple magazines of ammunition for said pistols, various less-lethal weapons systems, radios to call more individuals similarly armed, and hours of taxpayer-funded training on how to use all of it in the most effective manner possible.

And, in Brookfield, WI., a prosperous suburb of Milwaukee, patrol officers also have M16A2 rifles available on dashboard-mounts.

Sure helps with the DUI arrests which constitute 90% of the police blotter.

Posted by: dad29 at April 24, 2008 09:28 AM

A civilian police force should have the same arsenal as the civilians they serve. If they want to become a paramilitary force, I'd prefer we have an open debate about it *BEFORE* they purchase and train with the weaponry.

Posted by: Squid at April 24, 2008 10:15 AM

If the cops are outgunned by thieves, etc. then what's wrong with calling in the National Guard or even the Army itself on those *extremely* rare occasions? That's how the Detroit riots of the late '60s finally were put down, as I recall. Citizen-police for one job, soldiers for another.

Posted by: Rich at April 24, 2008 12:44 PM

Personally, my opinions on this matter are rooted in my strong affection for Federalist principles.

If Hoboken, NJ wants to arm their cops with shoulder-fired missiles, let them. If the citizens of Hoboken don't like it, they can put pressure on the cops through their elected officials. If the mayor gets enough phone calls and letters, chances are very good he'll have a talk with the chief of police.

Also, law enforcement is one of the few truly legitimate activities for the government to be involved in. I'd rather buy every cop on the beat a tank to patrol in than buy a stadium for some sports team that can surely afford it. Mind you, I have no problem with sports teams and players making lots of dough, that's the free market. I just don't think city government has any business subsidizing them. The city didn't pay for my employers' buildings, why should they pay for any other employers'?

Ronaldus Magnus (a/k/a Ronald Wilson Reagan) wanted to get the federal government out of the business of telling local school districts what to do, by abolishing the Department of Education, though, unfortunately, he didn't succeed. I think he'd have the same reaction to anyone besides the local voters telling a city how they can and cannot arm their cops.

Anyway, that's my view. And I am now bowing out of this debate.

Posted by: C-C-G at April 24, 2008 05:46 PM

ABC isn't careless about its "facts" concerning guns. This is a carefully orchestrated agenda of propaganda. In other words, they are not wrong, they are LYING to us!

Posted by: R.J. at April 25, 2008 10:07 AM

Wow! You guys who support the cops having anything they want scare the hell outta me! If you really believe what you say, you support nothing less than a police state. Or did you forget how the cops acted illegally in New Orleans, stealing people's guns under color of law, and driving them out of their homes? Remember Patricia Konie? She was body-slammed against the wall, her gun was wrenched out of her hand, and she was taken from her perfectly safe home. Laws aren't always right, and many are outright unconstitutional. But they give the cops authority to force us against our will, and often the cops overstep their legal bounds, either out of ignorance, or out of sheer lust for power.

It's because citizens had firearms equal to those of the Redcoats that we won our independence, andthat spirit should continue. It is freedom.

Posted by: R.J. at April 25, 2008 10:40 AM

RJ - Yes, I support the cops having 'anything they want' much as I support law-abiding citizens having 'anything they want'.

The local cops are controlled by the populace via their elected representatives. Where the cops are 'out of line', you will also find those elected representatives are worthless. Taking your case in point - New Orleans after Katrina. I believe you would agree NO's elected representatives were, at the very least, out to lunch most of the time.

Posted by: Mark at April 25, 2008 04:03 PM

Exceptional post. You would think they would know enough at least not to make their point by showing military weapons illegal in the U.S. marekt. Linked.

Posted by: GW at April 25, 2008 05:02 PM