Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vetting Wikipedia

Those of you who stop by Legion's Fate every now and then know that I have taken personal issue with the claims made by the mainstream media regarding the flow of weapons from the US into Mexico.

Now I'm sure that the cartels in Mexico are acquiring semi-auto rifles from the US in some amount, but the claims of every media outlet, as well as the ATF (who are driving the media's claims) border on the absurd. The story goes that these cartels are sneaking across the border into the US and paying soccer moms $100 to straw purchase full auto AK-47s, RPGs, M60s, .50 caliber M2 Heavy Machine Guns and smuggle them into Mexico. Those of us who are knowledgeable in the US firearms market and US firearms law know that this is patently untrue.
My investigations have led me to believe that this whole fiasco is the result of one tall tale telling ATF Special Agent who has led a retarded media to the cool waters of ignorance to drink.

My argument is that the cartels may be buying semi auto AK and AR copies from the US to some extent, but that the bulk of the weapons are coming from South American countries who have as standard issue all of the weapons that the ATF and Mexican government says the cartels are using, or the Mexican government itself. I'm sorry, but these weapons are just not available in sufficient quantity in the US to outfit an army of 100, much less the army of 100,000 that the cartels are known to have. They are, however, readily available from foreign countries for prices a fraction of the cost lower than that here in the states, and many of these failed socialist foreign countries wouldn't hesitate for a second to sell a truckload of grenades to some druglord.

But CTone, what the hell does any of this have to do with Wikipedia? I'm glad you asked.

I'm an advocate of Wikipedia. While you can't take anything said there as the absolute truth unless you check a secondary source, it does provide a handy base of information to start a search. Since anyone can change any article, there are sometimes crazy things posted (like what happened with the Chuck Norris page), but it does give those who are knowledgeable a means to make the information correct.

So there I was, this past Monday, reading through one of the many fraudulent stories about soccer moms buying RPGs at gunshows when I happened upon the Wikipedia entry for the Mexican Drug War. Seeing that the article lacked a great deal of fact, I created an account and proceeded to edit the page, adding a few legitimate references to round things off. Two days later the information I had added was removed by what I can only determine as a moderator of some sort named BatteryIncluded, who you may notice is knowledgeable in Viking Biological Experiments, Mars Science Laboratory, and Paragliding, but not Small Arms. It is also apparent that he (or she) is not knowledgeable in economics either, and neither am I for that matter, but I digress. As I am just learning the voodoo that is Wikipedia editing and don't want to step on any toes, I find my way into the discussion tab under the entry and proceeded to make my case.

I was informed that my argument on the price and availability of select fire AK-47s and RPGs and such was "interesting," but that I had not "[brought] forth any references," (which I quickly provided) and then I was provided dissent to my argument with exactly one link to a news report written in Spanish. I translated the linked page to English and showed that it reaffirmed my point, and I provided more information with references.

Boy, open forums for the exchange of ideas sure are great, huh!?!?

Not so much.

I was rewarded for all of my work with "The published reports by the FBI, ATF and DEA disgree with your opinion."

That's it. No linkage, no reference, not even a single solitary quote from a discredited ATF agent.
Now how is a website like Wikipedia supposed to keep any hope of correctness if the other person doesn't even bother to read the information provided? How do I know that my information wasn't read? Because when I noted that US regulations like the NFA, GCA, and FOPA kept prices of select fire AK-47s high, and also made them rare, BatteryIncluded responded to my point with:
"PS: due to its durability, low production cost and ease of use, the AK-47 remains the most widely used assault rifle in the world - so much so that more AK-type rifles have been produced than all other assault rifles combined. (Reference: AK-47). So much for your expensive and rare asumption."
The obvious problem in this statement is that US firearms regulations have absolutely nothing to do with production costs of foreign made weapons that were last imported into the US in 1968, but have everything to do with supply. The less supply, the more the demand, and the higher the cost, but BatteryIncluded would know all of this because I had already said it twice; he or she just didn't bother to read it (we wouldn't want something as trivial as fact to interfere with someone's opinion, now would we?)

I have provided a substantial rebuttal of facts, complete with legitimate and respected references, that is totally void of Spanish and not written by some idiot reporter late on a Friday afternoon, but I am asking my readership to take a stroll over there and provide some facts of your own.

This issue is important as it has a political impact on public opinion and US firearms law, and Wikipedia is used worldwide, and it would be a shame to let truthful information get trumped by media hysteria.

If anything, do it for the children!

Update: It seems he had a change of heart. I'm pulling together my sources to come up with something closer to the truth.

Maybe Wikipedia is not so bad after all.


Haji said...

It's been my assumption for quite a long time that Wikipedia was generally left leaning. I've seen the editing you mentioned happen before. The fact of the matter is that the Class III transferable machine gun registry has been a fixed supply since 1986. Civilians can't legally buy a select fire weapon made after that year, which is why prices stay so damnably high. If the supply wasn't restricted, full auto rifles and carbines would add about, oh, 25% to the price. I'd love to see the supply opened up; not to change the process of buying them, just to make post-86 guns available to the citizenry. Even if that happened, though, Messico's gun problem would still be a southern one, not a norte one.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the "Don't confuse me with the facts! I know what I know!" progressive. Archie Bunker would find a real kindred spirit in them.

Jerry in Detroit

Albert A Rasch said...

I'm heading over to Wikipedia and seeing what I can ad to the fracas. I've seen several times now, that the "opinion editing" is taken as gospel.

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
The Range Reviews: Tactical
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator

Albert A Rasch said...

Holy Smokes,

I think you covered all the bases very thoroughly and thoughtfully.

It appears that Batteries Included is a Brit, and as such suspect of anti American gun rights bias.

I commend you on such well thought out and persuasive argumentation; you do us all a great service!

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
The Range Reviews: Tactical
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator