The ATF’s plan to send guns to the cartels in Mexico has been written about before. The plan was called “Fast and Furious”, or in the blogosphere also “Operation Gunwalker” until the F&F name showed up. Journalist David Codrea at Examiner and Mike Vanderboegh of the Sipsey Street Irregulars blog did most of the heavy lifting. Michelle Malkin has a good summary of the story here.
Officials at the Department of Justice are in “panic mode,” according to multiple sources, as word spreads that congressional testimony next week will paint a bleak and humiliating picture of Operation Fast and Furious, the botched undercover operation that left a trail of blood from Mexico to Washington, D.C.
The operation was supposed to stem the flow of weapons from the U.S. to Mexico by allowing so-called straw buyers to purchase guns legally in the U.S. and later sell them in Mexico, usually to drug cartels.
Instead, ATF documents show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms knowingly and deliberately flooded Mexico with assault rifles. Their intent was to expose the entire smuggling organization, from top to bottom, but the operation spun out of control and supervisors refused pleas from field agents to stop it.
Only after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died did ATF Agent John Dodson blow the whistle and expose the scandal.
The ATF’s plan and the administration’s plan was to send guns to Mexico to pad their stats and keep up the myth that 90% of Mexico’s guns come from the US. It plays into the administration’s hands that… guns are bad, m’kay. It plays to an administration that is run by people who want US citizens disarmed, but will invariably do it “for our own good” – telling us lies like registration and confiscation and disarmament make us safer, when this is clearly not so.
But now the casualties are coming in.
Mexican officials estimate 150 of their people have been shot by Fast and Furious guns. Police have recovered roughly 700 guns at crime scenes, 250 in the U.S. and the rest in Mexico, including five AK-47s found at a cartel warehouse in Juarez last month.
A high-powered sniper rifle was used to shoot down a Mexican military helicopter. Two other Romanian-made AK-47s were found in a shoot-out that left 11 dead in the state of Jalisco three weeks ago.
The guns were traced to the Lone Wolf Gun Store in Glendale, Ariz., and were sold only after the store employees were told to do so by the ATF.
It is illegal to buy a gun for anyone but yourself. However, ATF’s own documents show it allowed just 15 men to buy 1,725 guns, and 1,318 of those were after the purchasers officially became targets of investigation.
Arizona gun store owners say they were explicitly told by the ATF to sell the guns, sometimes 20, 30, even up to 40 in a single day to single person.
And those orders, from at least one ATF case agent, are on audio recording.
“We would say, ‘Do you (the ATF) want us to stop selling, is there something we should do here?'” Brad DeSayes, owner of J&G Gun Sales in Prescott, said. “And they would say, ‘No, no, no, keep selling – just tell us after the fact.'”
This especially caught my eye because I’ve bought from J&G Sales before. They’re a good company. They were a small company in Montana in the 1940s, and moved to Arizona to expand in the late 1970s; and every time I’ve dealt with them on the phone, they’re good people.
Gun store owners knew where these guns were going. They knew they were going to straw purchasers, and they knew they were going to criminal gangs. They knew, and they wanted to do the right thing. They called the ATF, and the ATF told them to sell.
Now, for those who say “they should’ve told the ATF to go eat a bag of candy-coated dicks”, well, there’s a problem – a problem that starts with a g- and ends with an -overnment regulatory authority. The ATF is the regulatory agency for the firearms business. If they tell the ATF “no, we’re not selling to these scumbags, FU and your mother”, the ATF puts them out of business for not cooperating. The ATF first puts the gun store in a bad light, accusing them of not cooperating with law enforcement – even if the law enforcement agents are breaking the law. Then the ATF decides they need to audit their records, finds an abbreviation in their records, or manufactures some paperwork in their byzantine mess of regulation, and suddenly a company that’s supporting US sportsmen, law enforcement agencies (local PDs buy their ammo from stores, too), hunters, target shooters, self-defense advocates, and the like finds themselves regulated out of existence, or subject to asset forfeiture and seizure of the business.
For those unfamiliar with the ATF, their motto is “Always Think Forfeiture“. For those unfamiliar with forfeiture, the aptly named website “FEAR” explains quite a bit, or the short version from Wikipedia:
There are two types of forfeiture cases, criminal and civil. Almost all forfeiture cases practiced today are civil. In civil forfeiture cases, the US Government sues the item of property, not the person; the owner is effectively a third party claimant. Once the government establishes probable cause that the property is subject to forfeiture, the owner must prove on a “preponderance of the evidence” that it is not. The owner need not be judged guilty of any crime.
In contrast, criminal forfeiture is usually carried out in a sentence following a conviction and is a punitive act against the offender. Since the government can choose the type of case, a civil case is almost always chosen. The costs of such cases is high for the owner, usually totaling around $10,000 and can take up to three years.
For one little example of how it’s abused outside the ATF, a South Texas DA gave himself and a few cronies over $2 million in bonuses from assets that were seized by the state through asset forfeiture laws. When the ATF does it, it’s just as simple – just when they do it, they can disarm people without charging them – violating their Second Amendment rights as well as their Fourth Amendment rights.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Contrast that with “the government sues the item of property; once the government establishes that the property is subject to forfeiture, the owner must prove that it is not.” Items aren’t seized as evidence of a crime, they’re simply seized.
The insane stupidity of arming cartels is why gun sellers were objecting to it – but they can’t object strenuously. They exist where there is not really a rule of law – there is only the rule of men. Making the government angry makes you out of business. If Boeing makes the labor unions mad and the unions go to the National Labor Relations Board to dictate how Boeing does business, there are at least a couple of steps involved. If a gun store makes the ATF mad, the ATF simply destroys them. A small business (and gun stores are) doesn’t have the resources to deal with the kind of business-killing regulations that the ATF has. The ATF can declare them in violation of a made-up regulation (like abbreviations on 4473s – the “yellow sheet” background check paperwork everyone fills out when they buy a gun) and simply “forfeit” their assets into oblivion, destroying the business without a charge being filed.
Except now with Senator Grassley and Congressman Issa looking at the ATF and the administration’s master plan to bring down American gun rights by arming Mexican narco-terrorists, the rule of law may be about to crush the real criminals – those in government who promoted the sale of weapons that they knew would go to murderers – and sent them to the cartels over the explicit objections of gun stores and their own field agents.