Sharyl Attkisson has a report this morning on the legal commercial sales of firearms to the Mexican government and specifically the Mexican Army. All of these sales must be (and have been approved) by the U.S. State Department before any manufacturer is allowed to ship the guns to Mexico.
The reported number of AR-15s sold in 2006 was 2,400. By 2009, in the first year of the Obama Administration, the number of semi-automatic firearms sold to Mexico was 17,169 plus another 1,361 full-auto firearms. The 2009 figures come from the Department of State's Section 665 Report to Congress. As Attkisson notes, the Department of State has stopped disclosing the actual number of firearms sold. Checking the FY 2010 report, I find that she is correct and that the State Department just lumps everything into one category which could include anything from a firearm to its firing pin. I find it illuminating that as the drug war intensifies om Mexico and the Obama Administration is making a push to "stop the iron river of arms" going to Mexico that they now stop reporting just how many legal arms are being sold.
The problem as Attkisson points out is not the legal sales of firearms to the Mexican Army, it is the diversion of these weapons from the Army to the narco-terrorists. When a poorly paid Private deserts from the Mexican Army, it has become commonplace for his issued weapon to desert with him. Unfortunately, it doesn't then become stashed under the floorboards in his home for defending the wife and kids but rather goes to the cartels for a significant sum of money.
Ed Head made this same point in an interview with Cam Edwards of NRA News last week. The Obama Administration would have you believe that the arms going to the cartels are coming from border-state gun dealers. They want you to ignore the man behind the curtain or, in this case, the legal sales of firearms that are being diverted from the Mexican Army.
Attkisson reports that the State Department audits a very small percentage of the sales. Of those that it audited, it found that 26% of the firearms had been diverted or some other unfavorable result. Larry Keane of NSSF agrees that the State Department and the Mexican government need to provide better oversight of these firearms once they are in the hands of the Mexican Army. He is correct when he asserts that this is beyond the scope of what the American firearms industry can do.