August 11, 2008

Accurate as Ever at the L.A. Times

Richard Serrano published a story in the Los Angeles on Sunday entitled U.S. guns arm Mexican drug cartels.

In a marked improvement in the accuracy of Times stories, Serrano did not utter a factual inaccuracy until the third word of the article's first sentence.

High-powered automatic weapons and ammunition are flowing virtually unchecked from border states into Mexico, fueling a war among drug traffickers, the army and police that has left thousands dead, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.

The rifles being picked up along the border are of course not automatic weapons—machine guns—but are instead semi-automatic weapons which fire one bullet per trigger pull.

Further down in the article Serrano relates without question the claim that the FN Five-seveN pistol is armor-piercing, without bothering to see if armor-piercing ammunition is available for the pistols in the United States... and of course, it isn't, being barred for all but military and police sale by federal law.

Being ever helpful, I sent Mr. Serrano an email explaining where his story was wrong and needed corrections. Serrano has thus far neither responded, nor corrected his article.

In hopes of spurring some sort of interest in correcting the article, I emailed the National section editors of the Times, and made the radical suggestion that for future articles, they may want to consider interviewing actual gun experts instead of Mexican drug dealers when discussing the capabilities of firearms.

I doubt they'll listen to such suggestions, but we can always hope.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 11, 2008 03:36 PM

"The rifles being picked up along the border are of course not automatic weaponsómachine gunsóbut are instead semi-automatic weapons which fire one bullet per trigger pull."

He must have been using DC's definition of automatic weapons.

Idiotic, totally idiotic.

Posted by: Matt at August 11, 2008 03:43 PM

PS. The Five-seveN is junk. Terminal and external ballistics stink.

Posted by: Matt at August 11, 2008 03:44 PM

That is a snarky piece, even by current standards.

Let me see if I get this straight. He says that Mexican drug dealers are buying automatic weapons from US gun dealers, sometimes using straw man purchasers, and smuggling the guns back across the Mexican border. If that is what he is saying, then every single step in that process is already a federal crime. It is a federal crime for dealers to sell to non-citizens, (except resident aliens) and it is a crime for non-citizens to attempt to buy. It is a federal crime to sell automatic weapons to any civilian and it is a federal crime for ordinary civilians to possess same. It is a federal crime for any dealer to sell to any civilian who is not a resident of the state in which the dealer is licensed and it is a federal crime for any civilian to buy or attempt to buy a gun from a dealer outside of his or her state of residence. It is a federal crime to buy or sell a gun through a straw man purchaser. It is a federal crime to export a gun without an export license.

If this stuff is really happening, why don't they just start making arrests? Why is it necessary to advocate new laws to make it "double" illegal? If they know who is doing it, arrest them. If they don't know, how does a new law have an affect?

Here is the part that is the cherry on this slimy piece of cake:

"More than 6,700 licensed gun dealers have set up shop within a short drive of the 2,000-mile border, from the Gulf Coast of Texas to San Diego -- which amounts to more than three dealers for every mile of border territory. Law enforcement has come to call the region an "iron river of guns."

He implies that all these dealers have recently set up shop to cash in on this cross border trade. He does not define what is "a short drive", but if this range includes Los Angeles, San Diego, Tucson, El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville, San Antonio and every pawn shop and Walmart therein and in between, then the total number might be 6,700, but is that a larger number of gun dealers per capita than any comparable region of the rest of the US? Somehow, I doubt it.

Oh, and the bit about the guns being traced to the US is a disgusting bit of deception as well. Remember, these drug dealers are masters of smuggling and black market trading. If they can obtain and move large amounts of heroin and cocaine from places like Bolivia and Venezuela, it is hard to imagine that they can't find all the guns they want on the international black market in weapons. So, if a US made AR15 is sold to the Columbian Army, stolen by the FARC rebels and sold on the black market to Mexican cocaine smugglers, then, yes, that gun can be traced to the US. Whatever else such a trade might represent, it is not grounds for further infringement of the people's right to keep and bear arms, (which is his real goal.)

But maybe the guy has a point, in addition to the one on the top of his head. If all this is true, then the surest remedy is to build an impenetrable fence along the US/Mexican border from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific. If it will help disarm the smugglers it will be worth it.

Posted by: George Bruce at August 11, 2008 04:30 PM

"But maybe the guy has a point, in addition to the one on the top of this head. If all this...."

George, there are times in your life when you say, " I wish I had said that", but damn, that post just might be the sweetest read I've had in quite a while, and yes, I wish I had said that!

Posted by: templar knight at August 11, 2008 05:22 PM

The LAT can't go out of business soon enough for me.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at August 11, 2008 05:29 PM

The LA Times, oh that stinkin' outhouse that calls itself a bastion of journalism. I cancelled my subscription years ago and still have poor uniformed LA Times pundits calling me to renew my subscription. My answer them, as now, is I wouldn't wrap the garbage with the LA Times out of fear of being prosecuted for contaminating the garbage!

Posted by: Mescalero at August 11, 2008 10:27 PM

great site,

Posted by: pol at August 12, 2008 01:14 AM

Well, why would the reporter, who clearly has a position he wants to advance, want to be bothered by facts. Apparently J-school is for those who want to do more of an advocacy based writing career. But reporters, excuse me, journalists, are always making these kinds of errors, on all sorts of topics.

Posted by: Penfold at August 12, 2008 08:45 AM