Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan argued against doubts raised by the National Rifle Association that ninety percent of all assault weapons seized in northern Mexican originate from the United States.
The key issue, Sarukhan reiterated on CBS News' on Face The Nation Sunday, is to stop the flow of U.S. firearms and cash, "which is providing drug cartels in Mexico with the wherewithal to corrupt, to bribe, to kill.
"Ninety percent of all weapons we are seizing in Mexico, Bob, are coming from across the United States," he said, citing the high number of Federal firearms licenses a few miles north of the border. "Just on the Arizona and Texas borders with Mexico alone there are approximately 7,000 FFLs, federal firearms licensees. And weapons bought by the drug syndicates, directly or proxy purchases, are coming from those gun shops."
Schieffer noted that the NRA has taken issue with the statistic, and asked the ambassador where the data originates – a question Sarukhan did not directly answer, although he used the example of a recent weapons seizure in a border town to explain how much ammunition U.S. sellers are directing to drug cartels.
"We seized more than 250 assault weapons and half-a-million rounds of ammo, these have just crossed over the border," he explained. "By tracing back these weapons, by looking at the type of weapons, we determined that most of these weapons are coming from the United States."
Pushed by Schieffer about how Mexican authorities can be so sure the majority of the weapons originated in the States, Sarukhan said through research with AFT they discovered that most the grenades are coming from Guatemala, while most of the assault weapons come from the United States.
Schieffer asked if the ambassador would support the U.S. reinstating the ban on assault weapons.
"The assault weapons ban ran out in 2004, Bob," he said, "and since then we have seen a rise of assault weapons being seized in Mexico.
"There is a direct correlation between the expiration of the assault weapons ban and our seizures of assault weapons," he argued.
Sarukhan admitted that the Mexican government cannot determine how Congress and the Obama administration would move on the ban, but he did say that reinstating the ban "is one of the instruments … that could have a profound impact on the number and the caliber of weapons doing down to Mexico."
More from Face The Nation (4.12.09):
To watch Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan discuss the violent drug war raging on the U.S.-Mexico border, click on the video player below.
To watch a roundtable discussion of America's international role with the Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran, David Sanger of The New York Times and Syndicated Columnist Kathleen Parker, click on the video player below.