HomeNewsAnalysisRawFeed: Video Exposes Easy Access to Guns in Arizona
ANALYSIS

RawFeed: Video Exposes Easy Access to Guns in Arizona

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 9 FEB 2011 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

In videos released by the New York City mayor’s office, hidden cameras recorded how easy it is to buy guns from unlicensed dealers at a recent Arizona gun show. The videos raise questions about the lack of government oversight on weapons deals, since many of these weapons make their way to Mexican criminal organizations who are wreaking havoc in that country.

As part his city government’s own gun-control campaign, Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent several New York investigators to Phoenix, Arizona, in January, intending to document how the lack of background checks have turned gun shows into “magnets for criminals,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

In the video below, an investigator buys a Glock 9mm and an extended magazine clip from a “private” gun dealer who asks only to see ID. In another video, the buyer purchases a pistol despite admitting that he could not pass a background check.

Under U.S. law, licensed gun dealers are required to perform background checks, while “occasional” or private sellers are not. Laws vary by state, but Arizona is among the 33 states that do not restrict the private sale of firearms at gun shows, thereby attracting buyers with a criminal history in what is known as the “gun show loophole.” 

Along with Texas and California, Arizona is among the top three states where U.S. firearms are purchased and later trafficked to Mexico, according to a report by the Woodrow Wilson Center.  Many of these weapons end up in the hands of Mexican criminal organizations that are locked in a fierce battle among themselves and with Mexican authorities that has led to more than 35,000 deaths since December 2006.

The operation is very similar to the videos released by the New York City’s mayor’s office. So-called “straw buyers” purchase grenades, semi-automatics and rocket launchers in bulk for middlemen, who traffic the weapons to the Mexican border where they sold into the black market.

One gun store in Arizona, X Caliber, was the source of as much as 700 AK-47s sold to “straw buyers,” federal authorities have told InSight, many of which later surfaced in Mexico, as documented by InSight’s joint project with the Investigative Reporting Workshop, PBS Frontline, and the Center for Public Integrity – GunRunners.

In December, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) submitted an emergency request to the White House budget office, asking that gun stores along the Mexico border be required to report multiple purchases of high-power semi-automatic rifles, such as guns with calibers of .22 or greater, which are favored by Mexican cartels. On 4 February, the White House rejected the measure. 

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

MEXICO / 23 MAY 2014

Police have arrested the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping and murder of 13 youths in Mexico City, marking the final…

JALISCO CARTEL / 5 JUN 2019

Mexico's controversial National Guard has been deployed to some of the country’s most violent states, but the southern state of…

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR / 8 AUG 2012

A report about a small Mexican town which defied powerful criminal groups offers a close-up portrait of the methods…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…