Factcheck: 90% of Guns Seized in Mexico Do NOT Come from US

Lately, there are a lot of gun critics repeating a soundbite that 90% of Weapons that are seized in Mexico come from the United States.  This – in fact – is not true.  Here’s a few of the people touting this misinformation:

— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it to reporters on a flight to Mexico City.

— CBS newsman Bob Schieffer referred to it while interviewing President Obama.

— California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said at a Senate hearing: “It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico and used to shoot judges, police officers and mayors … come from the United States.”

— William Hoover, assistant director for field operations at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified in the House of Representatives that “there is more than enough evidence to indicate that over 90 percent of the firearms that have either been recovered in, or interdicted in transport to Mexico, originated from various sources within the United States.”

According to an investigation by Fox News:

In fact, it’s not even close. By all accounts, it’s probably around 17 percent.

What’s true, an ATF spokeswoman told FOXNews.com, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency’s assistant director, “is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S.”

But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.

“Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market,” Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.

In 2007-2008, according to ATF Special Agent William Newell, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the ATF for tracing. Close to 6,000 were successfully traced — and of those, 90 percent — 5,114 to be exact, according to testimony in Congress by William Hoover — were found to have come from the U.S.

But in those same two years, according to the Mexican government, 29,000 guns were recovered at crime scenes.

In other words, 68 percent of the guns that were recovered were never submitted for tracing. And when you weed out the roughly 6,000 guns that could not be traced from the remaining 32 percent, it means 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico could not be traced to the U.S.

Ed Head, a firearms instructor in Arizona who spent 24 years with the U.S. Border Patrol, recently displayed an array of weapons considered “assault rifles” that are similar to those recovered in Mexico, but are unavailable for sale in the U.S.

“These kinds of guns — the auto versions of these guns — they are not coming from El Paso,” he said. “They are coming from other sources. They are brought in from Guatemala. They are brought in from places like China. They are being diverted from the military. But you don’t get these guns from the U.S.”

Some guns, he said, “are legitimately shipped to the government of Mexico, by Colt, for example, in the United States. They are approved by the U.S. government for use by the Mexican military service. The guns end up in Mexico that way — the fully auto versions — they are not smuggled in across the river.”

Many of the fully automatic weapons that have been seized in Mexico cannot be found in the U.S., but they are not uncommon in the Third World.

The Mexican government said it has seized 2,239 grenades in the last two years — but those grenades and the rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) are unavailable in U.S. gun shops. The ones used in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey in October and a TV station in January were made in South Korea. Almost 70 similar grenades were seized in February in the bottom of a truck entering Mexico from Guatemala.

“Most of these weapons are being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea, eluding U.S. and Mexican monitors who are focused on the smuggling of semi-automatic and conventional weapons purchased from dealers in the U.S. border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California,” according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

So it leaves one to wonder.  Why would people like the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton throw out this percentage without first checking her facts?  Is this the anti-gun group in Washington playing with our minds?

  • Babs

    I quoted from a rather lengthy article here. You can read the whole article at:


  • The 90% number is bogus and is just used by politicians who want excuses to repeal the 2nd amendment and confiscate our guns.

    They’re not interested in facts or the truth, only ways in which their anti-gun agenda can be forwarded.

    Just for argument’s sake, even if the 90% number was credible, which it’s not, should we try enforcing the border instead of disarming Americans?

    Either way, the lid has been blown off this faulty made-up statistic.

  • JD

    GUNS!!!! Need More GUNS!!!!

  • Babs

    I bet you do, JD. You’re surrounded by illegal immigrants. 😉

  • Babs

    Let’s talk about guns and suicide. 😉

    Before you think I’m making fun of the people in Morris’s documentary “Vernon Florida”, don’t. My hometown is about 20 miles from Vernon, and my much older and wiser sister has retired on the creek in – guess where – Vernon. So this is really where I came from. But you’ll get a kick out of this account of a suicide. Oh yes, guns can be very dangerous. 😉

  • D.D.Mao

    If the administration can tamper with the 13th 10th and 1st Admendment to the Constitution in only 60 days they’re surely going to try to do away with the 2nd.

  • Zane Swanson

    These are outright misleading claims. True it is a case of numbers. But if it is as you say, lower than 20% . That would mean the cartels would HAVE to rely on weapons secured by Russian gangsters, but there has been NO notable seizures of arms that are needed by the cartels. On the other hand, this drug war that reaches as far south as Central America & Rio ( #1 transpo hub to Europe) has spawned a whole new industry of American straw buyers & gun runners. This war we fight on drugs would be laughable if hasn’t cost thousands of lives. Until the demand side is dealt with in the U.S. Nothing will stop the flow of drugs into our country. Legalizing marijuana would take 70% of the profits out of their billions $ industry, in turn it would reduce their purchasing power for cocaine from Columbia & reducing their operational capacity to conduct violence. It would hit em worse than any military strategy could

  • Zane Swanson,

    No, these claims are 100% accurate and truthful.

    Please provide a link to some evidence to back up the following claim:

    -“That would mean the cartels would HAVE to rely on weapons secured by Russian gangsters, but there has been NO notable seizures of arms that are needed by the cartels.”

    You provided no evidence for this whereas I have provided actual data for my factual claim that around 17% of guns seized in Mexico came from the US.

    Thus, over 80% of guns seized in Mexico do NOT come from the US. Please open your eyes to facts I presented or start presenting some of your own.