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Mexican drug cartel reps not welcome at Phoenix gun expo

March 26, 2009 |  9:28 am

Pistol_shoot Announcement from the Arizona Game and Fish Department: "Want the opportunity to shoot the new high-powered .416 Alaskan rifle just made for taking down a grizzly bear or other large game animal, but is engineered to be lighter and shorter than magnums?

"Or maybe you are interested in the other extreme -– Ruger’s rugged new generation of small lightweight pistols built on aircraft-quality aluminum frames, which can readily fit into fanny packs or purses?

"Take the opportunity to shoot guns, guns and more guns from the three major firearms manufacturers participating in the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Outdoor Expo at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility on the northern edge of Phoenix from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 28-29."

Reaction: Wonder how many reps from Mexico's drug cartels will be present? Or whether they'd like to possess the .416 Alaskan rifle? Or whether they've already tested and possess every new weapon to be showcased?

Seriously, you think guns these days, especially in border states such as Arizona, and you cannot help but think about cartels, which obtain most of their weaponry in the U.S.

Rifle_shootThat's because the media keep driving home the point. CNN has featured weapons-smuggling in its "The War Next Door" series. The Los Angeles Times has covered the issue in its ongoing "Mexico Under Siege" series.

The New York Times earlier this month published a story about a Phoenix gun shop owner charged with selling hundreds of AK-47s and other weapons to "straw buyers," who in turn delivered them to a cartel in Sinaloa.

The prosecution believed it had a solid case, but as the Arizona Republic recently reported, a judge dismissed criminal charges against George Iknadosian, owner of X-Caliber guns, ruling that purchases made in his shop were legal and that "there is no proof whatsoever that any prohibited [firearm] possessor ended up with the firearms."

There will be an appeal. Meanwhile, Arizonans are psyched about this weekend's free expo. It should be a fun experience, as long as the wrong element doesn't show up.

-- Pete Thomas

Photos: Arizona Game and Fish Department