5 years, 10 months ago
Glenn Reynolds links a Fox News report on the illegal termination of ATF whistleblower Vince Cefalu. This news is a couple of days old, but this interesting (and heretofore unknown) fact is revealed in the report.
Cefalu first told FoxNews.com about the ATF’s embattled anti-gun smuggling operation in December, before the first reports on the story appeared in February. “Simply put, we knowingly let hundreds of guns and dozens of identified bad guys go across the border,” Cefalu said at the time.
Indeed. So Fox News first learned of this illegality in December. Actually, David Codrea was among the first to report on this back in December of 2010. But if Fox News learned of this in December, why did they wait to begin reporting on the corruption? Why did ABC News report on this in early February, and then several days later CBS News (all around the same time that Fox News began running reports on gunrunner)?
Next, take note of an editorial in the LA Times.
Congress is rightfully angry that the operation went awry, and it should demand an explanation. The ATF must be held accountable and must provide answers.
But it is worth noting that the ATF is charged with an impossible mission: enforcing weak laws in a nation awash in firearms, where even the most modest attempts to regulate or prevent mass straw purchases invite accusations of infringements on 2nd Amendment rights from the gun lobby.
Consider that in 2006 the ATF came under congressional scrutiny for attempting to crack down on straw purchases at Virginia gun shows. That operation had been launched in response to a rise in homicides in the state. Agents traced about 400 guns recovered from crime scenes back to Virginia gun shows, according to congressional testimony. ATF officers who attended the shows and conducted residency checks to verify that interested buyers provided accurate information were later accused of harassing legitimate gun owners.
If Congress wants to stop mass straw purchases and stem the flow of guns to Mexican drug cartels, it ought to begin by confirming a permanent ATF director. The agency has been rudderless for nearly five years, largely because the National Rifle Assn. has publicly opposed nominees, including President Obama’s pick, Andrew Traver, who currently heads the ATF’s Chicago field office.
Federal lawmakers might also consider limiting the number of guns an individual can buy. In California, for example, a person can only buy one handgun a month.
The ATF should be held accountable for Fast and Furious, but Congress and the White House are responsible for letting the agency drift, and for failing to adopt sensible laws to prevent mass straw purchases.
The editorial board for the Washington Post must have had a conference call with the editorial board of the LA Times.
THE GUN RIGHTS lobby has spent considerable time and energy in pursuit of one goal: crippling the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It has largely succeeded — and with dire consequences.
Concerned to the point of paranoia about the erosion of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, the National Rifle Association and far too many lawmakers have fought against virtually every proposal to empower the bureau to better track and crack down on illegal firearms. They have won reductions in the ATF’s already meager budget. They have restricted the bureau’s ability to share information with other law enforcement agencies. They have kept the bureau rudderless for the past six years by blocking confirmation of new directors. And they continue to fight new rules that would allow the bureau to track bulk sales of long guns that have played a major role in the drug-fueled violence in Mexico.
Now, the very critics who have tied the bureau’s hands are expressing outrage over a novel, and we would agree questionable, ATF operation intended to curb gun smuggling into Mexico.
[ … ]
Lawmakers should give the ATF the tools it needs to fight illegal gun trafficking. They should enact stronger penalties for straw purchases and craft a federal gun-smuggling statute; close the gun-show loophole, which allows buyers under certain circumstances to purchase weapons without a background check; resuscitate the ban on assault weapons; and give the ATF the authority to collect data on multiple sales of long guns in border states. The Senate should move quickly to confirm a director for the long-leaderless bureau.
So according to the LA Times and the Washington Post, the problem is the NRA and the fight to protect second amendment rights, and the remedy is to close a gun show loophole through which the Mexican drug cartels do not purchase firearms, and enact stronger penalties for the very illegality in which the ATF was themselves engaged.
Sounds a bit like Senator Feinstein’s talking points, no? And it also sounds a bit like the Justice Department fed them this perspective, just like they fed the Washington Post incorrect information on Congressional knowledge of Project Gunrunner.