In the last four years, authorities have successfully traced 19,000 guns used

In the last four years, authorities have successfully traced 19,000 guns used in crimes in Mexico back to United States gun dealers. That’s the news from Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), whose just-released report (pdf) lists the states from which those guns are being trafficked. Given the thousand-mile buffer zone between Washington and the Mexican border, you might be surprised to find out that up until last year the Evergreen State was ranked among the Top 10 sources of these so-called “crime guns.” Just as eyebrow-raising perhaps is that it has now suddenly dropped out. In 2008, 129 recovered guns (up from the previous year’s tally of 97) submitted to the the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) were found to have origins in Washington, putting the Evergreen state ahead of Nevada and Oklahoma, according to numbers compiled by MAIG. From 2006 to 2009, MAIG’s Top 10 list is fairly consistent, with Texas leading the pack, followed closely by the rest of the border states. Washington leapfrogged into fifth place in 2007, then sank to the 8th spot in 2008 before dropping out of the Top 10 altogether in 2009. Washington’s raw total for that year isn’t provided. But, controlling for population, MAIG has now determined that in 2009, the rate of “crime-guns” being trafficked out of Washington and recovered in Mexico fell below the national average. Unfortunately, MAIG’s report doesn’t say why. Nor does it go into detail on how those guns are getting to Mexico.Michael Wolfe, Executive Director of Washington CeaseFire points to the so-called “gun show loophole” as one explanation. Long the bugaboo of gun control advocates, the loophole allows non-professional gun sellers to unload their extras without conducting a background check. “There’s plenty of ways that people can go about buying guns without background checks,” says Wolfe. “But in Washington, a preponderance of these weapons are becoming available through gun shows.” The ATF seems to be in agreement. In a 2009 report by the Yakima Herald-Republic, ATF officials complained that a large percentage of guns smuggled into Mexico originate at gun shows in Eastern Washington. Calls for comment to MAIG for clarification were not immediately returned. Same with the ATF.

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