Panic in the gun shops. Assault rifle sales soar


Asymptotic Life on the rush to buy assault weapons (because gun owners are afraid Obama might ban them.)

My local retailer says industry news sources indicate that over 10 million assault rifles were sold following President Obama’s announcement. That’s one new assault rifle for every 30 Americans.

That’s not as scary as it might sound. Says Maine gun store owner Ralph McLeod,

“The bad guys don’t care about assault rifles; they want handguns.”

Not so. There are some seriously certifiable bad guys, the Mexican drug cartels who want them. They use straw buyers to buy assault weapons in the US then smuggle them to Mexico. Emphasis added.

Mexican and US authorities have traced over 90 percent of the guns used by the cartels to American gun shops and shows, even though US laws forbid foreign nationals from buying fire arms.

While assault weapons sold here are not full auto, this seems to make little difference to the drug cartels.

I’m not opposed to people owning assault weapons. However, we clearly need way stricter regulation and licensing than the apparent gaping loopholes and nonexistent enforcement that exists in too much of the Southwest.

When you rent a car, you must show valid ID and credit card. I bet you can buy an AK with less ID than that in some states. And at a gun show, it could just be a wink and a nod.

  • DJ

    Actually you can’t. The laws about what ID you have to show are federal. States can have more stringent requirements, but not less.

    It baffles me why a drug cartel member would pay $500 and up for a semi-automatic rifle, even if it does look cool, when the average worldwide price for a full-auto AK-47 is about $150. (In the U.S., a full-auto AK-47 runs about $15K, and you need a whole lot of ID to get one. Full-auto machine guns are NOT leaving the U.S. for Mexico in any significant numbers, they’re very tightly controlled by BATF.) Full-auto failing, for urban combat my second choice would be a self-defense-style shotgun, with a just-long-enough-to-be-legal barrel and a pump action– which, by the way, would not be affected by Obama’s proposed Assault Weapons Ban.

    But then, the article doesn’t say the cartels want semi-automatic assault weapons. It says they are “heavily armed” with “automatic weapons.” That makes more sense. A Fox News article shows seized stacks of what appear to be shotguns and machine guns, while the text reports such military equipment as grenades, rockets, RPGs, bullet-proof vests, armor-piercing bullets, and .50 caliber sniper rifles. Most of that is illegal for civilians in the U.S. to possess.

    The article speculates that, despite the claims of the Mexican government, at least some of that weaponry (including the armor-piercing rounds) “are probably coming from the Mexican military.” It also says more than 17,000 Mexican soldiers have deserted, presumably with their weapons, for better pay with the cartels. Another article on says the cartels prefer the Belgian-made FN series pistols. (That article incorrectly states that hunting rifles with standard ammunition have armor-piercing capability. They don’t.)

    I have no doubt that SOME of the weapons used by the cartels in Mexico originate in the U.S. The feds busted one (count’em: one) gun dealer in Arizona for selling AKs to the cartels, apparently without the “straw man” interface. As we know, money trumps law, that’s why the cartels exist in the first place. But their powerhouse of weaponry isn’t over-the-counter stuff you can buy at the local Guns-R-Us.

    • Also, in the quantity that cartels would want weaponry, having straw buyers get them a few at a time would be too time-consuming. They probably have other methods. Supposed legitimate dealers buying in bulk for them, that sort of thing. Also, maybe it’s not so hard to turn semi-autos into full autos, given sufficient resources.

      On my gun show comment. I read somewhere, can”t remember where, someone in law enforcement said guns shows in the Southwest were notoriously for sales with few questions asked, if any.

  • This is bad. Having assault rifles sales high. It’s a bit of a threat to everyone.

  • Ross

    Sales at gunshows can be from licensed dealers or between individuals. Sales form the licensed dealers are subject to the same laws and regulations that apply at a fixed place of business. Sales between individuals are subject only to state laws. In California, this means the parties have to find a dealer to retain the firearm for the statutory waiting period. In other states, sales between individuals are completely unregulated. However, an individual who sells a large number of firearms may come to the attention of BATFE and be prosecuted for being in the business without a license.

  • The idea that Mexican Drug cartels are buying large numbers of firearms in the US is increasingly coming into dispute. The news reports themselves identify the weapons as “automatic weapons” as well as grenades, mortars, heavy machine guns etc. To suppose that these military weapons are coming from US gun shows or gun dealers is ludicrous.

    I have no doubt that there is some level of smuggling of semi-automatic weapons from the US into Mexico, but I would imagine that these are primarily handguns and that many of those, and those few rifles that are making their way across the border, are not primarily going to the drug cartels, but probably to the Mexican citizens, disarmed by their government, who are desperate to defend themselves and their families by any means possible against the crushing violence of the cartels in the face of a wholly inept and thoroughly corrupt Mexican government. (Holy run-on sentence Bat Man)

    Having assault rifles sales high. It’s a bit of a threat to everyone.

    That’s just patently ridiculous. Legal gun ownership by law abiding citizens is only a threat to criminals and tyrants…not to you. Not to mention the basic fact that firearms typically referred to as “assault weapons” are generally chambered in much less powerful loadings than common hunting firearms and are rarely used in crime. According to FBI and DOJ crime data, less than one tenth of one percent of homicides in this country are committed with ANY type of rifle, let alone “assault weapons”. This is simply a non-issue. Law abiding citizens poking holes in paper at a shooting range, using rifles with scary looking cosmetic features, is a threat to no one.

    However, an individual who sells a large number of firearms may come to the attention of BATFE and be prosecuted for being in the business without a license.

    And this is especially true at gun shows were there is always a heavy presence of law enforcement personnel, both uniformed, and in plain clothes. The chances of coming to the attention of law enforcement are simply too great for for those with criminal intent to take the chance. They generally avoid places like that.

    The feds busted one (count’em: one) gun dealer in Arizona for selling AKs to the cartels, apparently without the “straw man” interface.

    That case was summarily dismissed by the judge a few days ago: The basic gist is that the prosecution had absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing. Their case was based upon nothing more than presumption and innuendo.

    If this is as bad a problem as they assert: 90 percent of Mexican guns to the tune of 2,000 per DAY coming from the US, I would think they’d actually be able to build more cases on better evidence than that.

    With all that said, I have no problem with them catching and prosecuting people smuggling guns into Mexico. The Mexican citizens need to demand a change to their laws if they want to be afforded the right of gun ownership. As long as it is illegal, I have no problem with those laws being enforced.

    But as soon as people begin rationalizing restrictions on OUR right to keep and bear arms in a vain attempt to control violence and crime in another country…well, I’ve got a serious problem with that…as do many other Americans.

    Guns, wherever they come from, are not causing the violence in Mexico. Violent people, coupled with a corrupt government and disenfranchised people are what is causing the violence in Mexico. US gun laws are just a scapegoat.

    Compare crime rates between Mexican cities on one side of the border with US cities right across the border. The New York Times did it recently in terms of Ciudad Juarez vs El Paso and noted the startling difference.

    Tell me: why is that US guns cause such carnage in Mexico when they fail to do the same thing here? (With the notable exception of several large cities which also effectively ban gun ownership and use: DC, New York, Chicago, LA, Boston, etc…but even those exceptions are still not as bad as Mexican cities right across the border)

    • Thanks for the thoughtful reply

      Parts of Mexico are more violent than here because they have areas that the warring cartels not the government control. The cartels have even announced names of law enforcement officers on the radio and they were found dead a few hours later. John Robb has noted that Phoenix police say the cartels are sending hit men to their city now and they are worried about being out gunned.

      It’s the corruption that bothers me the most. How could huge amounts of drugs pass the border without there being serious corruption of our side, both border police and money laundering banks. Like a border guard being paid well to ignore that fence for ten minutes and we know where your kids go to school…

  • less than one tenth of one percent of homicides in this country are committed with ANY type of rifle, let alone “assault weapons”.

    Sorry, that should have read “less than one percent”. I believe the actual number is .7% off the top of my head.

    I couldn’t sleep and it’s early…I’m not thinking as clearly as i should be.

    My mistake.

  • but even those exceptions are still not as bad as Mexican cities right across the border)

    That didn’t come out right either. No, I don’t think that New York, Chicago et al are “right across the border” from Mexican cities. What I meant was “…Mexican cities right across the border from the US”

    That may have come across as sounding a bit obtuse. Again, my bad…it’s early.

  • DJ

    Bob suggests that gun shows in the U.S. are more lax than gun shows elsewhere. In my experience, that’s not the case. Check out a gun show in NH, for example– their private party sales require no documentation either.

    OTOH, imagine a guy loading cases of AKs into his van at a gun show. As Sailorcurt says, that’s sure to grab a police officer’s attention.

    Sailorcurt’s suggestion that the problem in Mexico stems at least in part from prohibition has some merit– much like the prohibition on drugs here, which is the cause of the rise of the cartels in the first place.

    I DON’T hold that if every Mexican citizen had a gun, the cartels wouldn’t dare do what they do. Some people will do anything for money, even if it risks their life. In the Old West, everyone had a gun, but those who were faster (and more reckless) killed those who weren’t when they chose to. It’s not the presence or non-presence of guns that reduces violence, but rather respect for each other as people. Our post-modern greed-mongering culture that values material wealth above all else (even other people’s wellbeing) doesn’t promote peaceful living, guns or no guns.

  • UJ

    Guns are for killing criminals and tyrants?! Ahahahahahahaha!!!

    Derr, OK somebody want to actually PROVE that instead of pulling it out of your ass? Come on, gun nuts, show me your statistics on all the tyrants you killed with your non-automatic Diet Assault Rifles. Because otherwise, I think you’re full of shit, and you’re ignoring the lives of millions of dead innocents so you can weakly rationalize your un-enlightened blood thirst for owning man-killing devices.

    If you are actually a grown adult educated and sophisticated enough to understand intelligent debate and you ACTUALLY think the reason people don’t like guns is because they look scary like in the movies…you’re an idiot, and I fundamentally disagree with YOUR right to own a weapon, because if you don’t understand the difference between the looks of a gun and the fact that THEY ARE USED TO KILL PEOPLE, I sincerely doubt your mental faculties and you shouldn’t be trusted around children or heavy machinery, much less deadly weapons.

    Also, nice job quoting the gun store owner on the gun control story. I always like to ask people guaranteed to lie to me for their honest opinion. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to call someone at Phillip Morris and ask them for health care tips…

    • DJ

      Statistics, UJ? Like “millions” of people killed by semi-automatic assault rifles? Here’s some:

      “[C]ontrary to our expectations, only 2 – 3.8 percent – of the 52 mass murders we gleaned from the Nexis search [from Jan. 1992 through May 1996] unambiguously involved assault weapons. This is about the same percentage as for other murders…” (Roth & Koper, 1996)

      “From 1982 to 1993, of the 687 officers who were killed by firearms other than their own guns, more were killed by .38 caliber revolvers than by any other firearm.” Justice Department, 1995.

      From an analysis of gun ownership versus murder rates on my own blog: “The five states with the highest gun ownership are WY, AK, MT, SD, and WV, all of which have guns in more than 55% of households… [T]heir rank for murders is 35, 15, 48, 41, and 31. Only one (AK) is in the top 50%.” The U.S. jurisdiction with the highest gun death rate is Washington DC, which also has the lowest gun ownership rate.

      According to Nationmaster, the nation with the largest number of murders is India (37,170), which recorded none committed with firearms.

      In Rwanda in 1994, over 800,000 people were killed, almost exclusively with machetes.

      I’m not saying that firearms aren’t used to kill people– clearly they are. But people kill people whether or not firearms are available. And the presence of firearms generally DOES NOT correlate with either higher murder rates or higher gun deaths. Neither does the presence of firearms correlate with lower murder rates or lower gun death rates. Statistically, gun ownership rates have no correlation at all with murder rates.

      What that means is that people wanting to stop violence will not do so even if they do succeed in banning all guns, because guns are not the source of violence– just one of many tools available for carrying it out.

      As for killing tyrants, I’ve never killed anyone with a firearm– in fact I’ve spent nearly 20 years of my life working to end a war. But I did use a gun to protect my goats from a pack of wild dogs. I’d hate to try that with just a machete!

  • jetdrvr

    I carry a concealed weapon. I once used that concealed weapon to protect myself from three poetentially violent individuals. I will always carry a concealed weapon, regardless of laws to the contrary, if they are passed.

    I live in a gun-friendly state and have been licensed to carry since 1992. That’s 17 years of traveling armed at all times and never once has my gun decided unilaterally to shoot someone. Nor will it. I am partially disabled and am 66 years old. It’s no joke that a young man will kick your ass, but an old man will kill you.

  • BMG 50 CAL

    After his first 100 days in office, an ominous issue haunts Barack Obama: Is he in charge of his own presidency?

    If not, who is?

    In his campaign, Obama made a raft of promises of what he’d do if elected that he has not kept. Prominently included were making government more transparent, changing to more-bipartisan governance, vetoing earmark pork spending, and winning cooperation from allies through multilateral diplomacy.

    Not only has he failed to keep those promises, he has also worked assiduously to violate them — all to the applause of his leftist political base.

    He made other major promises that he has kept:

    # Ordered troops out of Iraq by a date certain regardless of that government’s ability to survive

    # Closed the enemy-combatant prison at Gitmo

    # Ended what he considers torture during interrogation of such detainees

    # Agreed to meet anti-American tyrants without pre-conditions

    # Ramped up spending on a wide agenda of social programs

    # Offered a modicum of tax relief while seeking far-more in new taxes

    # Appointed left-of-center politicians to key positions

    In keeping those promises, he saddled taxpayers with more debt than the government incurred since its founding. Huzzahs from the far left.

    Obama and his administration have been beset by an embarrassment of blunders, exploding cigars, and just plain bad-judgment calls.

    He’s been unable to staff the top ranks of the Treasury, has withdrawn nominees to Cabinet posts due to tax-related and other scandals, and has tried to explain away gaffes he, his subordinates, and the vice president have made.

    All the while, the new president has been a frenetic jumping jack. The press can’t keep up with his next moves. It’s unlikely most Americans can, either. Yet, throughout, he has remained cool as a cucumber, giving every impression of a president well and comfortably in charge of his own presidency.

    That is, until his recent, spectacular, half gainer of a flip-flop on whether to prosecute his predecessor president’s minions for what the far left, including Obama, regard as criminal torture of enemy combatants.

    At first, Obama ruled out such prosecutions. He wanted to “move on,” not look back. He dispatched his chief of staff to a Sunday televised talk show to underscore that, emphatically and in detail. But, on Tuesday, Obama was on TV, ostentatiously opening the door to the prosecutions he had just rejected.

    Was he in charge when he ruled out prosecutions? Or when he ruled out ruling them out? Or both times?

    The logical answer: He was in charge neither time.

    Then, if not Obama, who is in charge of the Obama presidency? Who is it who’s pulling Obama’s strings? Whose puppet is he?

    The fawning press spins it that Obama responded, in admirable democratic statesmanship, to the howls from the far-left after he ruled out prosecutions. If that’s what happened, how come Obama did his springboard acrobatics before the loudest leftist howling began?

    Was he simply prescient?

    But if he’s so keenly attuned to his base, why did he in the first place rule out prosecutions, which any political neophyte knows would set their hair on fire?

    Or is there some individual, off stage, who instructed the president of the United States to perform that embarrassing, 180-degrees reversal? If so, who is that master puppeteer?

    Could this be why Obama pitched a fit until the Secret Service let him keep his cell phone to receive calls he absolutely had to take?

    In the Pinocchio allegory, an insignificant wooden figure yearns to become a real little boy. But his proclivity for stretching the truth causes his nose to lengthen each time.

    The little future marionette falls among evil company in Catchfools, a city where everyone is a fool, or worse (read Washington, D.C.), and pays the consequences (well, maybe not Washington, D.C., after all).

    The full story of Barack Obama, the puppet president, remains untold: Who is the Geppetto who carved this herky-jerky stick figure? Who now pulls the strings that control the movements that affect the daily lives of all Americans? The masonic puppet.

    • UJ


      The 7 Jew Bankers who control the United States do not appreciate being so skillfully exposed. I have reported your dangerous dissidence to the Obama Youth Brigades. Please surrender your weapons and prepare for immediate transfer to a FEMA re-education camp. Thank you for your obedient compliance, civilian.

      • And those Jew Bankers are so cunning and sneaky that they appointed WASPS to be CEOs of most of the banks, just to divert suspicion from their nefarious goals, I’m sure.

    • Anyone who thinks Obama is getting Huzzahs from the far left hasn’t been reading the MarxMail and LBO-Talk listservs.

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