EDITORIAL: Calderon’s shot at American guns

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Felipe Calderon received liberal plaudits for falsely claiming Arizona’s new immigration law uses racial profiling, but that wasn’t the only baloney the Mexican president peddled during his state visit. Over four minutes of his Thursday address to Congress was spent lecturing Americans to renew the federal Assault Weapons Ban that sunset in September 2004. His justifications for the ban were all garbage.

Mr. Calderon claimed that guns covered by the federal ban were particularly “powerful weapons.” While the term “assault weapons” may conjure up visions of military hardware, the inside guts of these feared guns are essentially the same as deer hunting rifles. The firing mechanisms in semiautomatics and machine guns are completely different. The entire firing mechanism of a semi-automatic gun has to be removed and replaced to turn it into a military weapon like an AK-47.

Mr. Calderon’s propaganda aside, Mexican drug gangs are getting real military weapons from within Mexico, countries south of his border and other places around the world. Reports indicate that grenades and rocket launchers in use in Mexico aren’t even available for sale in the United States and come from places like South Korea, Israel and Spain. Between 2007 and 2009, 2,239 grenades were seized by the Mexican government, and those weren’t from here. Markings similarly show that machine guns in Mexico largely originate from China, Israel and South Africa.

“If you look carefully, you will notice that the violence in Mexico started to grow a couple of years before I took office in 2006,” Mr. Calderon said. “This coincides, at least, with the lifting of the [U.S.] assault weapons ban in 2004.” He also patronized Americans by warning that our own gun ownership endangers the United States. The problem with these talking points is that murder rates dropped in America and Mexico between the 2004 expiration of the ban and 2008, when the latest data is available.

Likewise, Mr. Calderon’s claim that 80 percent of guns used in Mexican crimes come from the United States is completely false. Most weapons seized in Mexico have traceable serial numbers that show they come from countries other than the United States. The 80 percent number reflects how many guns sent to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for tracing end up being from America. Most weapons seized in Mexico aren’t transferred to U.S. authorities, so that figure is meaningless for calculating overall totals.

It is offensive for Mr. Calderon to come here as our guest and make up facts to blame America for Mexico’s many problems. But it was more frightening to witness Democratic House and Senate members jump up and give a standing ovation when the foreigner called for renewing the Assault Weapons Ban. That’s a warning all American gun owners should heed.

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