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Barack Obama wrong on U.S. guns in Mexico:


(UPDATE: On April 22 withdrew its flat statement that the president was wrong, saying it could not prove that. An updated item appeared here.)

On his recently concluded first visit to Mexico as president, a week after telling Europeans that his country had been at times arrogant, President Barack Obama blamed his own country for providing 90% of Mexico's recovered crime guns.

According to a report by the independent this afternoon, that's incorrect. By a, uh, long shot.

The president's assertion, also cited by Mexican President Felipe Calderon during their joint news conference in Mexico City, and the reported inaccuracy seems likely to fuel the eternal American gun-control debate, especially as it relates to the U.S. role in Mexico's deadly drug world.

Here's the FactCheck full summary:

There's no dispute that thousands of handguns, military-style rifles and other firearms are purchased in the U.S. and end up in the hands of Mexican criminals each year. It's relatively easy to buy such guns legally in Texas and other border states and to smuggle them across.

But is it true as President Obama said, that "more than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States?" No, it's not.

The figure represents only the percentage of crime guns that have been submitted by Mexican officials and traced by U.S. officials. We can find no hard data on the total number of guns actually "recovered in Mexico," but U.S. and Mexican officials both say that Mexico recovers more guns that it submits for tracing.  Therefore, the percentage of guns "recovered" and traced to U.S. sources necessarily is less than 90 percent.

Furthermore, the 90 percent figure is based on a badly biased sample of all Mexican crime guns. Law enforcement officials say Mexico asks the U.S. to trace only those guns with serial numbers or other markings that indicate they are likely to have come though the U.S. 

Fox News has put the percentage at only 17 percent, but we find that to be based on a mistaken assumption that throws its figure way off. We can't offer a precise calculation because we know of no hard information on the total number of guns Mexican officials have recovered.

But if a rough figure given by Mexico's attorney general is accurate, then the actual percentage of all Mexican crime guns traced to U.S. sources is probably less than half what the president claims, and more than double what Fox news has reported.

Thecomplete FactCheck report is available here.

We have a video report on Obama's Mexico stay too. (Scroll down or click the "Read more" line.)

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Guillermo Arias / Associated Press (Guns and drugs seized in Mexico).

Comments () | Archives (14)

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Give it a rest Malcolm. "" which has perhaps the most cynical nick in America is a liberal advocacy group. This is a fact. Really, write about something you have a clue about. And can you left wing kooks lose this fetish with Fox News. Fox is crushing the competition for a reason. They tell the truth. CNN and MSNBC are brazen about lying; have you ever watched that sleazeball Keith Olberman? They know they are lying and are quite happy about it.

(Hey, Erick. Did you even bother to read the item? So-called liberal advocacy group knocks Obama's figures?? Does that compute for you?)

For such a smart guy he can be a dumb a....

First he bows to the Saudi leader.

Second he shakes hands with brutal Cuban Dictator, Communist and anti capitalist Chavez

Thirdly he grants a murdering, communist, war criminal, who allowed RUssian nukes on his soil to be pointed at us a full victory of acceptance by a US president, on his death bed no less.

Fourthly, he doesn't understand statistics or the fact that the Mexicans don't really track their own weapons to the extent we do.

Duped, dumb and dumber thats our President.

Today the French pres. Sarkozy called Obama weak and inexperienced!!!!

Hmmmm Mexico is concerned about our eeeeeeevil guns. Ok fine. Tell you what Mexico, how about building a wall on the border between our two countries to keep out all those eeeeeevil guns. That should help stop the flow of guns into your country.

*chuckle* Your citizens are just hard working, salt of the earth types so a wall shouldn't effect them in their quest "just to feed their families", right? After all climbing a wall is just another job Americans won't do, eh?

I don't see how FactCheck debunks the Fox News analysis of the numbers. They jump from 11055 submitted to ATF in the past 2 years, and that 90% of those successfully traced come from US sources, and assumes that all 11055 were successfully traced, when in fact the testimony says that only 3567 could were successfuly traced to US sources for 2008 (I didn't see the numbers for 2007). So for FactCheck to say that the 17% number is "simply wrong' seems pretty arrogant on their part when they have nothing to back it up.

of course Ear Leader is wrong about the guns, but then again, who's surprised about that?

after all, he's been wrong about pretty much everything else. hell, he can't even tell the difference between a door and a window, and i'd be amazed to find out he's ever even handled a gun.

is it 2013 yet? President Palin is going to have her w*rk cut out for her cleaning up after this petulant naif currently making a mess of everything.

Obama, like all Democrats, is in love with blaming the United States for everything he can.

Self-loathing is the pre-cursor to decline. Rome wasn't conquered by invaders, it rotted from within.

You're becoming the Jake Tapper of the print medium--reporting rather than gushing.

And that's a good thing.

Obama is soft...dangerous for America!!!

Well, I knew that the 90% figure was completely bogus but I must say that I am amazed to read this at the Los Angeles Times. Maybe there is some hope for your newspaper after all.

What a concept - publishing a story just because it is true even if it does not further the agenda of the Obama administration. You know, I might subscribe to a service that supplied news instead of Democratic Party talking points as a regular practice rather than as an occasional fluke.

Is that first pic related to a bust? Because the 3 main guns [not the handgun] in the pic are kalashnikov's which, last I checked, aren't from the U.S. Big cartel's could get these in bulk from the far east without question, far cheaper than they could take them across the boarder. They are simple, durable and get the job done.

glad to see you are reporting this, even if most MSM won't touch.

Pom Pom Girl, you need to shut up and go cheer with the rest of the Rush Limbo ReTHUGlicans. First of all, Obama did and does NOT bow down to NOBODY! What about the time when Bush KISSED and HELD HANDS with the Saudi Arabian prez? Why sbout that, huh? As far as Sarkozy, he can't call and talk about anything but himself because France is not doing well either.

Amen to Pom Pom Girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

it is irrelevant where those firearms came from.
the idea remains to disarm the civilian population, not so much of mexico but of the united states, and ultimately of the whole world. it's the time tested scheme of governments creating 'problems' and then rushing in to 'fix' them.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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