October 20, 2010 Mr. Steve Capus President, NBC Nightly News 30 Rockefeller Plaza New York, NY 10112 nightly@nbc.

com Re: Mexico: The War Next Door Dear Mr. Capus: I am deeply concerned with a recent report (“Mexico: The War Next Door,” October 17, 2010) in which NBC Nightly News senior correspondent Richard Engle stated that “most of the cartelrelated killings in Mexico are carried out with assault rifles and .50 caliber machine guns bought over the counter in the United States.” I would like to know where Mr. Engle came up with this claim. The firearms industry is one of America's oldest and most storied entities. We played a prominent role in America's westward expansion, continue to serve as the Arsenal for Democracy and support the conservation of America's wildlife and great outdoors. We are also one of the most regulated industries in the world. From production to distribution, distribution to sale, everything we as an industry do is overseen by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). There are no statistics to support the notion that “most” killings in Mexico involve so-called “assault rifles” or .50 caliber machine guns. Furthermore, the notion that anyone is walking into a retail store and purchasing .50 caliber machine guns is completely without merit. These firearms are not only extraordinarily expensive, but require a special tax stamp and clearance from federal law enforcement to purchase and possess, making such sales extremely rare. Unfortunately, spreading misinformation about members of the firearms industry and cartelrelated violence in Mexico isn’t limited to just your network. In our battle to correct such misinformation we, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for America’s firearms industry, have responded to newspaper articles, editorials, radio and television programs and even documentaries. In all of these cases we have cited ATF statistics noting that the vast majority of recovered firearms in Mexico do not come from the United States. You see, of the firearms that are recovered in Mexico, only a small portion can be traced. It is only of this small number of traced firearms that a higher percent were first sold in the U.S. Not the total. Not anywhere near the total. Still, this latest report by NBC is particularly troubling.

Mr. Steve Capus


October 20, 2010

Why was there was no mention of the average “Time to Recovery” of firearms in Mexico? According to the ATF, the average age of recovered firearms in Mexico is more than 14 years past the original purchase date, a clear indicator that these firearms have not been recently acquired in the United States. How was it that your team failed to comment on well-documented reports that drug cartels are illegally smuggling fully-automatic firearms, grenades and other weapons into Mexico from South and Central America (Washington Post, July 17, 2010)? Similarly, there was no mention of the 2,000 ATF inspections of firearms dealers along the border, the result of which was not a single dealer being charged with a crime. Finally, perhaps if Mr. Engle had spoken to even just one local ATF Field office he would have learned that rather than being a source for criminals to obtain firearms, America’s Federally licensed retailers are law-abiding men and women considered by law enforcement to be the first line of defense against firearms trafficking. Members of the firearms industry take very seriously the illegal acquisition and misuse of firearms. This is why NSSF, in partnership with the ATF, developed the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy anti-straw purchasing campaign (www.dontlie.org). The intent of the program is to raise public awareness that it is a serious crime to purchase a firearm for someone who cannot legally do so and to help ATF to educate firearms retailers on how to better detect and deter illegal straw purchases. Moving forward, I believe NSSF can be a valuable resource for NBC Nightly News. I would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you to discuss this idea and to see how we can help educate your viewers on firearms related matters. I look forward to your response. Sincerely, NATIONAL SHOOTING SPORTS FOUNDATION

Stephen L. Sanetti President & CEO SLS/jg

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful