River of Guns Winds Through Some Interesting Spots

Feb 18, 2011
The idea that we'd ever find WikiLeaks information relevant to the protection of United States citizens' gun rights wasn't anywhere on our radar when the NSSF's Larry Keane tipped us off to some disturbing information gleaned from leaked State Department documents.

According to State Department cables, the Mexican drug cartels are getting their weaponry from an international operation, with the cartels getting military weapons through various government channels. Some of those weapons did, in fact, come from the United States, but they weren't the result of the "gun show loophole" straw-man purchases or any of the other individual criminal acts anti-gun groups would have you believe.

Large quantities of those US weapons -everything from rifles to machine guns, grenade launchers, explosives and ammunition, came from purchases by the government of Mexico from the United States. As the underpaid, undermanned and undermined soldiers of the Mexican army skipped out on the military to put their training to work for the cartels, they took their issued-arms with them.

Others come from weapon buys from guerilla groups in South and Central America that are then smuggled into the country.

No specific numbers on how many of those guns "recovered in Mexico and traced back to the United States" were, in fact, military purchases, but the State Department cables indicate a portion of the fewer than 12 percent of the traceable weapons actually came from the United States in gun shop/individual type purchases. Remember, that's not 12 percent of the tens of thousands of weapons recovered - it's only 12 percent of the weapons recovered that were traceable. It's nowhere near the 12 percent figure that has been misquoted and used as evidence of the United State's "horrific" problem of illegal gun sales.

Meanwhile, another governor has announced his intention to ignore federal rulings when it comes to the problem of wolves ravaging elk herds. Montana governor Brian Schweitzer says he is encouraging livestock owners located north of Interstate 90 to shoot gray wolves that harass their animals. Schweitzer told the Associated Press he was ordering state game wardens to stop investigating wolf shootings in that part of the state. Southern Montana livestock owners already have authority to shoot the wolves.

Schweitzer summed up a lot of the wildlife management community's sentiments when he said he was "fed up with years of litigation that have kept wolves on the endangered species list" while their populations have grown to more than 1,700 animals across the Northern Rockies.

Seems another governor is using common sense to legislate. It's a growing trend nationally, to the chagrin of federal authorities unaccustomed to having any decision questioned, much less rejected out of hand.

And the fishing world's celebrities are making their way to New Orleans for the Bassmaster Classic. Between the competition and the daily expo, it's an event that brings in fishing enthusiasts from around the country -and the world. Yesterday also marked the new B.A.S.S. ownership's first event.

Don Logan, one of the three new B.A.S.S. owners, shared his insights on the challenges of separating B.A.S.S. from ESPN. Jim Shepherd Photo
During their inaugural media day, Outdoor Wire editor had the opportunity to spend a few minutes talking to new owner Don Logan.

TOW: Don, what was the biggest challenge in buying B.A.S.S. from ESPN?
Logan: It was more difficult than we thought it would be because of the challenge of breaking out the various parts of the business that were actually just parts of the ESPN machine. Web technologies, accounting, sales, all those areas were really not part of B.A.S.S. they were part of the ESPN system.

TOW: Any new opportunities?
Logan: Certainly, we're going to see if we can't reconnect B.A.S.S. anglers and our fans and recreate the sense of community that used to be part of the fabric of BASS. We want to see the B.A.S.S. logos back on the bumpers of anglers' trucks. To do that, we're going to do more with our content libraries- there's no reason they must remain exclusive to ESPN, we're doing more live webcasting, special events online will be part of what we're doing and we're going to have the opportunity to recreate the "party line" idea- you know, gathering online and talking and listening to each other. There are lots of things in the future, and we're going to try to kick them off in an orderly fashion.

TOW: The biggest surprise in the deal?
Logan: The disjointed sales, content and creative teams. B.A.S.S. was a small subset of the ESPN networks. It didn't really have the primary focus of the sales department. Consequently, sales didn't talk to the content people, and the creative teams weren't involved either. No one ever had the kind of meetings I was accustomed to- where the entire team got together in the room and said the goal was to leave the meeting with a dozen really good ideas that we were going to implement that would add value to our programming, our viewers and our advertisers. We're working to get that culture moving smoothly, but this isn't something that can be accomplished in something as simple as a 100-day plan.

TOW: Thanks, Don.

As always, we'll keep you posted.