In this report by Vivian S. Chu and William J. Krouse for Congressional Research Services, issued September 21, 2009 by Congressional Research Service for members and committees of Congress , gives an overview of gun trafficking from the United States to Mexico.

The report examines in detail U.S. gun control statutes, including the Gun Control Act of 1968, which dictates how background checks on non-licensed dealers should be completed in the U.S. The report then looks at the enforcement of gun laws by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), including the problem of “straw purchases,” or third-party purchases of firearms, and the implementation of Project Gunrunner, an initiative intended to combat arms trafficking to Mexico. The report also includes three case studies involving the prosecution of firearms trafficking, in McAllen, Brownsville, and Victoria, Texas. 

From the report’s summary:

U.S. firearms laws currently govern the possession and transfer of firearms and provide penaltiesfor the violation of such laws. “Gun trafficking,” although not defined by statute, essentiallyincludes the movement or diversion of firearms from legal to illegal markets. This report includeslegal analyses of three ATF-investigated, Southwest border gun trafficking cases to illustrate thefederal statutes that are typically violated as part of wider gun trafficking schemes. The reportalso examines anti-gun trafficking proposals introduced in the 110th Congress. So far, no similarproposals have been introduced in the 111th Congress. The report concludes with possible policyquestions for Congress regarding the magnitude of Southwest border gun trafficking, the use andsignificance of ATF crime gun trace data, the possible ratification of an Inter-American GunTrafficking Convention (CIFTA), and the adequacy of the federal statutes designed to deter andreduce illegal gun trafficking.

Read full report. (pdf)

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