Archive for the 'BATFE' Category



The ATF Doesn’t Know Who Has Guns

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 7 months ago

Standard-Examiner:

In the fictional world of television police dramas, a few quick clicks on a computer lead investigators to the owner of a gun recovered at a bloody crime scene. Before the first commercial, the TV detectives are on the trail of the suspect.

Reality is a world away. There is no national database of guns. Not of who owns them, how many are sold annually or even how many exist.

[ ... ]

When police want to trace a gun, it’s a decidedly low-tech process.

“It’s not CSI and it’s not a sophisticated computer system,” said Charles J. Houser, who runs the ATF’s National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, W. Va.

When police trace a gun, the search starts by sending all the information they have about the gun – including the manufacturer and model – to an office worker in a low-slung brick building just off the Appalachian Trial in rural West Virginia, about 90 miles northwest of Washington.

ATF officials first call the manufacturer, who reveals which wholesaler the company used. That may lead to a call to a second distributor before investigators can pinpoint the retail gun dealer who first sold the weapon. Gun dealers are required to keep a copy of federal forms that detail who buys what gun and a log for guns sold. They are required to share that information with the ATF if a gun turns up at a crime scene and authorities want it traced. Often, gun shops fax the paperwork to the ATF.

That’s where the paper trail ends.

In about 30 percent of cases, one or all of those folks have gone out of business and ATF tracers are left to sort through potentially thousands of out-of-business records forwarded to the ATF and stored at the office building that more closely resembles a remote call center than a law enforcement operation.

The records are stored as digital pictures that can only be searched one image at a time. Two shifts of contractors spend their days taking staples out of papers, sorting through thousands of pages and scanning or taking pictures of the records.

“Those records come in all different shapes and forms. We have to digitally image them, we literally take a picture of it,” Houser said. “We have had rolls of toilet paper or paper towels … because they (dealers) did not like the requirement to keep records.”

The tracing center receives about a million out-of-business records every month and Houser runs the center’s sorting and imaging operations from 6 a.m. to midnight, five days a week. The images are stored on old-school microfilm reels or as digital images. But there’s no way to search the records, other than to scroll through one picture of a page at a time.

“We are … prohibited from amassing the records of active dealers,” Houser said. “It means that if a dealer is in business he maintains his records.”

Good.  This is the way I want it kept.  Any further collating, storing, amassing, categorizing or any other kind of analysis means that the federal government would have a national gun registry.  And that would be unconstitutional … and immoral.

The Bible does contain a few direct references to weapons control. There were many times throughout Israel’s history that it rebelled against God (in fact, it happened all the time). To mock His people back into submission to His Law, the Lord would often use wicked neighbors to punish Israel’s rebellion. Most notable were the Philistines and the Babylonians. 1 Samuel 13:19-22 relates the story: “Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, axes, and sickles sharpened…So on the day of battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in this hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.” Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon also removed all of the craftsmen from Israel during the Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 24:14). Both of these administrations were considered exceedingly wicked including their acts of weapons control.

As I said.  Gun control is the action of wicked governments.  A national gun registry grants the government too much power, too much information, and too much control.

What To Expect On Gun Control In The Coming Months

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

We’ve discussed it many times, this proposed extended and expanded assault weapons ban proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein.  The new legislation may fail, but the White House has it’s own front in this war on firearms.  But their own propaganda betrays a serious weakness in their approach.

The White House is also developing strategies to navigate the rocky and emotionally fraught terrain of gun politics once final policy decisions are made. The administration is quietly talking with a diverse array of interest groups, including religious leaders, mental-health professionals and hunters, to build as broad a coalition as possible, those involved in the discussions said.

The president is expected to face fierce opposition from the NRA and its allies in Congress, including most Republicans and some Democrats.

But Biden signaled to those involved in the policy discussions that the White House is not afraid of taking on the NRA, the nation’s largest gun rights group. At the Dec. 20 meeting, according to Stanek, when one law enforcement leader suggested focusing on only the most popular proposals, Biden responded: “Look, what I’m asking you for is your candid opinion and ideas about extreme gun violence. Leave the politics to the president. That’s our job with Congress.”

They want to turn hunters against the NRA and modern sporting rifles.  Fat chance.  That didn’t work out so well for David Petzal or Jerry Tsai.  Their plans to divide and conquer the NRA will meet with disastrous results.  Every minute spent on such a tactic is wasted, and thus we have to hope that they expend a lot of energy on it.

But the later part of the strategy, i.e., politics, is far more fearsome and they have proven very adept at that approach.  Gun Owners of American (h/t Mike Vanderboegh) gives us an inside baseball look at the current tactics.  In summary, John McCain is working against gun owners by pressing (along with the Democrats) for a rule change that would essentially be a work-around of the filibuster rule.  Lindsey Graham has vowed to vote against new gun control measures, but since he is McCain’s lap dog, he may be looking for cover as he works silently behind the scenes to assist in Feinstein’s plans.  Joe Manchin has backed off of his public calls for new gun control measures, but he may be playing the same game as McCain and Graham.

Currently in the Senate, Rand Paul is the only immovable champion of second amendment rights.  If new laws pass the Senate, they must also pass the House before going to the President’s desk.  It isn’t clear what the House will do.  If history is any indication, they are in a weakened state, and lack any backbone anyway.

However, the Republicans stand warned.  If – controlling the House of Representatives – they allow new gun control measures to pass to the President’s desk, the GOP will cease to exists as a viable political party.  Voters are having difficulty finding differences between them and the Democrats anyway.  Caving on gun control would seal the fate of the GOP as a historical relic rather than a future possibility.

If new gun control measures don’t pass the Senate and House, the game is far from over.  The Obama administration is investigating the possibility of executive orders reclassifying semi-automatic firearms as title 2 weapons, thus doing by fiat what the legislative branch rejected.  The fight will continue, just in a different locale than the Senate and House.

Finally, if new gun control measures pass to the President’s desk (in which case he will surely sign the measures into law), it means more than just new background checks.  All semi-automatic firearms will be taxed, required to be submitted to the ATF for approval, controlled from crossing state lines, and prohibited from being bequeathed to your children or grandchildren in your wills.  Violation of any of these rules will turn you into an instant felon.  Of course, this would mean a resistance for which America isn’t prepared.

Karl Denninger writes:

It is time for We The People to take a stand, as did John Hancock, Richard Stockton, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Penn, Arthur Middleton and others.

Your right to life is not bestowed by government. Your right to liberty is not bestowed by government. Government never possessed those rights and you cannot bestow what you do not first lawfully possess.

You right to life and liberty were bestowed by your creator. Those rights inure to each and every one of us by virtue of being human. And here’s the point which many of you wish not to discuss:

A right without the ability and willingness to defend it is no right at all.”

Bob Owens writes:

“The Second Amendment of the United States was never written to protect hunting or target shooting. It was written by men who had just fought a successful armed revolution against the most advanced military of their day, and who wanted to ensure that future generations would be armed with weapons of contemporary military utility in order to stand against the day that once more, tyrants would attempt to consolidate power and lord over the people as their betters.

“Any attempt to take the contemporary arms of military utility our Founders wanted us to have, which includes the standard magazines and clips used in these firearms, is an act of tyranny that the Founders would recognize as an event justifying the use of force to retain our freedoms.”

“Tread carefully.”

Brandon Smith writes:

“There is no ambiguous or muddled separation between the citizenry and the government anymore. The separation is absolute. It is undeniable. It is vast. It is only a matter of time and momentum, and eventually there will be unbridled oppression, dissent, and conflict. All that is required is a trigger, and I believe that trigger has arrived…”

Mike Hendrix writes:

“This is a society preparing for war,” writes Bob Owens.

“Reluctantly, almost unwillingly, it should be noted. But the sad truth is, war is already being made upon it, and has been for a long time now. Said society has been more than patient, more than tolerant. But eventually, enough is enough. Everyone has their limit; freedom-loving Americans’ has very nearly been reached. A few more steps over the line, and the kettle is going to boil over.”

“Any liberal-fascists who think we’re all going to go gently into that good night really, really need to reconsider. We all have to hope they do. But we all have to be prepared for the possibility, the likelihood, that they mightn’t. “This far, no further” is more than just an empty slogan.”

“Gird your loins.”

Alan Halbert writes:

“We are in far more danger from these actions of our own government than from another Sandy Hook atrocity by a crazed killer.”

“The Second Amendment’s purpose is to provide for the citizens’ defense from all who would deny their natural God- given right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” against a criminal, a foreign or domestic enemy, or our own government. We will witness the end of the Republic if this proposed legislation is passed, since all of our rights flow from the citizen’s ability to defend them.”

“As for this citizen, I will never disarm or surrender my Second Amendment rights, much less willingly comply with such a traitorous act of Congress if enacted… it is actions like these that light revolutionary fervor in a nation and its citizens. It did so in 1776 and it will do so again.”

John Jay writes:

“…when it is done, and the regime defeated, no one will talk about what he did in the war. It shall have been terrible, and brutal. Executions, murders, assassinations and the inevitable collateral damage shall be the issue of the day. This is the price that those who attempt to impose a totalitarian regime in the America’s shall face. Many of us will die, and some shall become iconic photos hanging from lamp posts, stripped naked and hoisted by their ankles, as final witness and testimony to their arrogance.”

“Those who seek to take our weapons trifle with history, heritage and firmly held belief. It should be remembered, those of us who believe this way are god fearing, and shall invoke and beseech our God for support. We have a religious underpinning and faith that shall carry us through this, as opposed to those who seek to suppress us. They have nothing but naked ambition to sustain them.”

“Do Obama, Pelosi, and Feinstein have the stomach for this sort of conflict? Are they willing to initiate, in order to try and gain the rule they aspire to? We shall find out.”

Western Rifle Shooter’s Association writes:

“Understand that once the ball opens, there will be no stopping the righteous fury of viciously-indignant Americans, especially once the 2013 versions of Waco and Ruby Ridge are re-enacted by Regime loyalists across the nation.”

“No one associated with the Federal government or its mutant-twin ruling parties will be safe.”

“Especially once the guys with the scoped hunting rifles come in.”

Mike Vanderboegh writes that there would be a revolution if the government confiscates weapons, and Herschel Smith warns that there will be resistance and writes that the resistance won’t be “the peaceful kind.”  If it goes to the point of forcible implementation of the proposed legislation, it will be awful, bloody, violent and extreme.  Right now we don’t know for certain what will happen in Washington.  But depending upon that outcome, what will happen all across America has been written.  1.6 billion rounds of handgun ammunition won’t be nearly enough for the government.

You’ve been warned.

UPDATE: “Class II” has been changed to “Title II.”  I appreciate Glenn’s attention to this article.  Also, David Codrea gives a link.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to John Richardson for the attention.

UPDATE #3: Thanks to Mike Vanderboegh for the attention.

More On ATF Ruling On Sporting Purposes For Ammunition

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 9 months ago

Following up on ATF Ruling On Sporting Purposes Exemption To Armor Piercing Ammunition, Cam Edwards talks to John Frazer, NRA-ILA’s Director of Research and Information, in a very informative video.  It’s worth watching.

ATF Ruling On Sporting Purposes Exemption To Armor Piercing Ammunition

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 9 months ago

Courtesy of Say Uncle, the NRA has caught indication of what could be a very important ATF ruling, if not for what it does, certainly for the precedent it sets.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is taking public comments on its website until December 31, with regard to how it should determine what types of projectiles meet the “sporting purposes” exception to the federal “armor piercing ammunition” law. At this time, the question centers primarily around rifle-caliber projectiles made of metals harder than lead, such as the Barnes Bullets solid brass hunting bullets.

Under the law, adopted in 1986, “armor piercing ammunition” is defined as “a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium.” A second definition, added in the 1990s, includes “a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.”

Because handguns have been made in certain rifle calibers, many bullets that were designed originally for rifles also “may be used in a handgun.” If such projectiles are made of the metals listed in the law, they are restricted as “armor piercing ammunition” unless they meet one of the law’s exemptions. Being considered at this time is the exemption for “a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes.”

Last week, BATFE met separately with gun control activist groups, firearm industry groups, and groups representing hunters and other gun owners. The latter meeting included the NRA; Safari Club International; representatives of state wildlife agencies; and firearm and ammunition importers.

BATFE has expressed two opinions about the law and exemption that warrant particular scrutiny.

First, BATFE suggested that it believes that the “armor piercing ammunition” law was intended to affect all ammunition capable of penetrating soft body armor worn by law enforcement officers. NRA reminded BATFE that the law was intended to protect law enforcement officers against the potential threat posed a very narrowly-defined category of projectiles: those, such as KTW and Arcane, which by virtue of their hard metal construction were designed and intended to be used by law enforcement officers to shoot through hard objects, such as automobile glass and doors, when fired at the velocities typical of handgun-caliber ammunition fired from handguns. Neither before nor since the law’s enactment, has an officer been killed due to such a bullet penetrating soft body armor.

NRA further pointed out that the legislative history of the law clearly shows that members of Congress, including the sponsor of the law in the House, Rep. Mario Biaggi (D-N.Y.), a decorated former NYPD police officer, expressly did not want the law to restrict rifle-caliber bullets that happen to also be useable in handguns chambered to use rifle cartridges.

Second, BATFE says it considers projectiles to not be exempt under the “sporting purposes” test if they “pose a threat to public safety and law enforcement.” BATFE also expressed concern that since the law was adopted, various new rifle-caliber handguns have been invented. On that point, NRA made clear that the sporting purposes exemption is straightforward: it applies to all projectiles that are “primarily intended for sporting purposes”–nothing more, and nothing less. Under the law, a projectile would be exempt if it is primarily intended for sporting purposes, even if it is secondarily intended for self-defense or some other legitimate purpose. Furthermore, the law does not condition its restrictive language or its “sporting purposes” exemption on the design of a particular handgun; the law is concerned only with specific projectiles that can be used in handguns. NRA cautioned the BATFE against interpreting the law in a manner more restrictive than Congress intended.

I think that the NRA comments are, in the main, on target.  It’s easy to conflate purposes for laws that were crafted so long ago.

Also see the comments at Say Uncle.  I agree that this will end up in an effort to control long gun ammunition, and have recommended before the complete abolition of the ATF as an unwarranted, unconstitutional and wasteful intrusion on the rights of citizens of the U.S.

Take careful note, too, what they say concerns them: “BATFE also expressed concern that since the law was adopted, various new rifle-caliber handguns have been invented.”

I wonder how many Department of Justice employees are equally concerned when SWAT teams raids the homes of unsuspecting and incorrect targets, such as Mr. Eurie Stamps, or Ms. Zaelit, or Mr. Tuppeny, or Ms. Lloyd, or Thomas and Rosalie Avina, or Mr. Kenneth Wright?  Statists will be statists.  Can a leopard change its spots?

Finally, this issue of the sporting purposes test is laughable.  The ATF didn’t listen when I pointed this out before, and they aren’t likely to start now.  It isn’t that the test is difficult, or convoluted, or hard to apply, but necessary nonetheless because it’s the law.  The issue is that it is self referentially incoherent.  It cannot be logically applied because it presupposes the consequent.

The ATF must decide what is the “sporting purposes” category by populating the list with examples, and then make the claim that such-and-such an example is deemed to be or not to be a “sporting purpose” because it is or isn’t on the list.  It reasons in a circle.

Not that the ATF will care.  And not that they will care what we have to say about ammunition either.

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention!

UPDATE #2: See also David Codrea, Mike Vanderboegh and Kurt Hofmann.

BATFE Tags: ,

OIG Report On Fast And Furious: Failure

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 11 months ago

David Codrea has been at the forefront of Fast and Furious, along with Mike Vanderboegh, and one recent article on the Office of Inspector General’s report on Fast and Furious supplies ample evidence of his accuracy.

Spending a considerable portion of its analysis on the Operation Wide Receiver Bush-era firearms trafficking surveillance program, the Office of Inspector General’s massive report on Fast and Furious gunwalking released Wednesday corroborates much information presented to Gun Rights Examiner readers almost a full year ago.

“Operation Wide Receiver illustrated the failure of management in ATF’s Phoenix Field Division to alert ATF Headquarters to the use of these tactics,” the report documents, validating a claim made by Mike Detty, the confidential informant at the heart of the case, that “It had nothing to do with Bush or even DOJ.” This is significant, because House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Democrats and sympathetic media allies have made great hay conflating Wide Receiver with Fast and Furious and spreading a blame-transferring “Bush did it too” meme, with no less than Attorney General Eric Holder making a (since withdrawn with minimal fanfare) claim that a predecessor AG, Michael B. Mukasey, knew about the program and kept things quiet. Also of significance, Holder’s boss and executive privilege benefactor, President Obama, is still publicly conflating the operations, falsely telling Univision that Fast and Furious had “begun under the previous administration.”

Other Detty claims, published in this column in October, 2011, are also corroborated by the OIG report, including his account of the US Attorney telling him he refused to prosecute the case because of ATF lies. Another report filed later that month told of failed cooperation attempts with the Mexican government, also referred to by the IG. Other stories filed by Gun Rights Examiner, including one in November, 2011, relayed Detty’s account for phase known as Wide Receiver I and Wide Receiver II, also subjects of the OIG report, as well as attempts to smuggle receivers to Tijuana through San Diego.

The point being, these are but a few examples of innumerable reports filed in this column and at citizen journalist Mike Vanderboegh’s Sipsey Street Irregulars blog that have since been proven through “official” sources, albeit, there is often a significant lag time between sourced claims and validation. It’s important to keep that in mind, particularly when reading claims from media sources that have done practically no original reporting on Fast and Furious except to weigh in on occasion with administration talking points, and absurd, wholly unjustified claims that the OIG report vindicates or exonerates anyone with the admission it has found no evidence.

Read the rest of Codrea’s report and his update.  I want to focus on something a little more pedestrian concerning this report.  I have not read the IG’s report and do not intend to.  David can be relied upon for the “inside baseball” of this scandal.

But there are two things that keep floating their way to the top for me like so much flotsam and jetsam from the shipwreck of what we now know as Fast and Furious.  We continually hear about the “failed” operation, the “flawed” program, and the lack of oversight when the main stream media report on the scandal.

I’m not convinced that anything was flawed or that the operation failed.  I still believe that it accomplished the precise goal for which it was intended.  They just got caught.  Unlike previous operations such as “Wide Receiver,” there was never any plan to interdict weapons.  More importantly, there couldn’t have been.  Once they crossed the border there was no means to track them, no power to confiscate them, and not even a sure means to trace them back to point of origin (although publication of the point of origin was the intended purpose if I am right about the program).

I have previously discussed Project Gunrunner (yes, I understand that this isn’t precisely the same thing as Fast and Furious, predates it, and Fast and Furious is still a subset of Gunrunner if I’m correct), where the U.S. government allegedly provided the means and training for the electronic tracing of firearms for Mexican authorities.

Not enough of them were trained.  There weren’t enough assets to accomplish the mission.  There was no way to pull it off, and this wasn’t even on the front end of firearms usage – it was on the back end after they had already been used in crimes.

What I’m saying is that the assertion that Fast and Furious is simply a “botched” operation doesn’t comport with the facts on the ground.  There was never any possibility that it would yield any fruit, and its handlers knew this if they have only slightly higher ability to perform syllogistic reasoning than, say, my dog.

Second, and just as important, is to observe what’s happening as part of the political cycle.  Note that Codrea links an article by Jake Tapper where Jake explains that Obama made false assertions about Fast and Furious beginning under previous administrations.

Of course this is false, and the IG’s report is a failure in that it spent even one second discussion Wide Receiver (for me, that it discusses Wide Receiver is more evidence that it would be a waste of time to read it, and it only further exonerates my view that I can ignore it).  Let’s rehearse for a moment what we learned in November of 2011.

It was left to Republican Senators Charles Grassley and John Cornyn to lay bare some crucial distinctions between to two ATF operations. Wide Receiver actually involved not gun-walking but controlled delivery. Unlike gun-walking, which seems (for good reason) to have been unheard of until Fast & Furious, controlled delivery is a very common law enforcement tactic. Basically, the agents know the bad guys have negotiated a deal to acquire some commodity that is either illegal itself (e.g., heroin, child porn) or illegal for them to have/use (e.g., guns, corporate secrets). The agents allow the transfer to happen under circumstances where they are in control — i.e., they are on the scene conducting surveillance of the transfer, and sometimes even participating undercover in the transfer. As soon as the transfer takes place, they can descend on the suspects, make arrests, and seize the commodity in question — all of which makes for powerful evidence of guilt.

Senator Schumer’s drawing of an equivalence between “tracing” in a controlled-delivery situation and “tracing” in Fast & Furious is laughable. In a controlled delivery firearms case, guns are traced in the sense that agents closely and physically follow them — they don’t just note the serial numbers or other identifying markers. The agents are thus able to trace the precise path of the guns from, say, American dealers to straw purchasers to Mexican buyers.
To the contrary, Fast & Furious involved uncontrolled deliveries — of thousands of weapons. It was an utterly heedless program in which the feds allowed these guns to be sold to straw purchasers — often leaning on reluctant gun dealers to make the sales. The straw purchasers were not followed by close physical surveillance; they were freely permitted to bulk transfer the guns to, among others, Mexican drug gangs and other violent criminals — with no agents on hand to swoop in, make arrests, and grab the firearms. The inevitable result of this was that the guns have been used (and will continue to be used) in many crimes, including the murder of Brian Terry, a U.S. border patrol agent.

In sum, the Fast & Furious idea of “trace” is that, after violent crimes occur in Mexico, we can trace any guns the Mexican police are lucky enough to seize back to the sales to U.S. straw purchasers … who should never have been allowed to transfer them (or even buy them) in the first place. That is not law enforcement; that is abetting a criminal rampage.

As Sen. Cornyn pointed out, there is another major distinction between Wide Receiver and Fast & Furious. The former was actually a coordinated effort between American and Mexican authorities. Law enforcement agents in both countries kept each other apprised about suspected transactions and tried to work together to apprehend law-breakers. To the contrary, Fast & Furious was a unilateral, half-baked scheme cooked up by an agency of the Obama Justice Department — an agency that was coordinating with the Justice Department on the operation and that turned to Main Justice in order to get wiretapping authority.

By the time Cornyn was done drawing this stark contrast between Wide Receiver and Fast & Furious, Holder was reduced to conceding, “I’m not trying to equate the two.”

But Obama trotted this out as if most people have not heard of Wide Receiver, and if they have, they don’t know anything about the differences between it and Fast and Furious.

In fact, I fear that most people in America are watching sitcoms at night before bed.  Obama may be right, and he may pull off yet another misdirect on the American people, at least, the ones who don’t care.

Name Change For The ATF

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 12 months ago

From WSJ.

As Evan Perez reported in the WSJ last month, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been thinking about turning its unwieldy seven-word name into something a little snappier. At the time, he wrote that Violent Crime Bureau was a candidate.

Now, quietly, the name change has happened—at least a little bit. For a few days now, the bureau has featured the new name at the top of its home page (atf.gov), just below the old name. The site’s top banner reads, “Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives / The Violent Crime Bureau.”

The new name doesn’t have any legal status yet. Asked about changing names Wednesday, ATF acting director B. Todd Jones said, “That’s a concept that we batted around.” He added that the agency was focused on returning to its fundamental mission and said, “How it’s labeled is less important than what it does.”

The Violent Crime Bureau moniker reflects the agency’s ambition to take the lead in tackling violent-crime outbreaks in big cities such as Philadelphia that have seen an increase in murders and drug-related shootings. The agency’s current name is something of an anachronism because it brings fewer than a hundred alcohol and tobacco cases a year. And its reputation as a firearms regulator took a hit because of the Fast and Furious scandal …

So a name change has been “batted around” within the DOJ/ATF in order to save their battered reputation?  That’s how the new head is spending his time and energy?  My idea is somewhat different.  Leave firearms regulation entirely to the states, and hand ATF employess their pink slips.  All of them.  It would save money, and my bet is that it wouldn’t cause one iota of difference in crimes.

It would more closely comport with the doctrine of federalism so important to our founders, it would help to protect our constitutional rights, it would decrease federal meddling in the lives of U.S. citizens, and it would sweep yet another bloated and wasteful federal bureaucracy out of the way as we press towards streamlining of the system.  What’s not to like about it?

ATF: Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 1 month ago

Todd Jones, the acting director of the ATF, says trying to manage the organization is testing all of his skills.

Jones has replaced six out of his eight top assistant directors at Washington headquarters. And he says he’s tried to promote a new generation of leaders all over the country, including ground zero for the Fast and Furious scandal, along the Southwest border.

“Sixteen out of our 25 field divisions have new special agents in charge,” he said. “It’s really been a historic transformation, and it’s really been an opportunity for us to … cherry pick our best and brightest.”

But five ATF managers in Washington and Arizona, who were blasted by House Republicans in their report on Fast and Furious, still work in the federal government.

That seemed to rankle Fox News host Megyn Kelly and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

“Of these five guys who you point to who are responsible for this at ATF, no one’s been fired,” Kelly said on her program this week. “They’re still on the federal taxpayer dime. And the head guy, Ken Melson, he’s working for DOJ right now. Are the taxpayers still paying all these folks and why?”

Issa replied: “They are still paying all these folks. We are concerned that there has been no real repercussions.”

To which Jones says, just wait.

“On this issue of folks who are identified in the House report that are still with ATF, well there’s this little concept called due process,” Jones told NPR. “And until we get a factual report and a complete record from the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General, which is our normal process, and make the referral to our internal affairs division, then there are rights that employees have.”

He even wants to change the name of the ATF to the Violent Crime Bureau.  Sounds as if Mr. Jones really wants to get to the bottom of this whole scandal, no?  But not so fast or furious.

Acting Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director B. Todd Jones has failed to acknowledge overtures by the confidential informant at the heart of Operation Wide Receiver to give him detailed information about the failed gun smuggling investigation, Gun Rights Examiner learned over the weekend. Firearms dealer Mike Detty, who sold about 450 guns to straw purchasers under the assurances of his ATF handlers that they would be under surveillance, attempted to give Jones operational information both in person and by letter earlier this year, only to be ignored.

“I met him in the Sig booth at SHOT this year,” Detty told this correspondent. “I asked one of his people if he had time to say hello to another former Marine. He came over with a big smile and shook hands. I handed him a business card and told him, ‘If you’re serious about getting to the bottom of the gunwalking scandal you’ll need to start at the beginning–that’s me and Operation Wide Receiver.’

“He nodded and said he’d be in touch,” Detty continued. “Several weeks later I sent him a letter with my contact info and offer to help. Nothing.”

Gun Rights Examiner has obtained a copy of that letter, written on February 27, as well as the certified domestic mail return receipt, providing proof of delivery on March 5.

“There are currently something like 30 people serving prison sentences because of my involvement to help end illegal gun trafficking to Mexico,” Detty informed Jones, giving him a means of validating his credibility with an easily verifiable claim. “Not one case has gone to trial because of the overwhelming and indisputable documentation of these transactions–often videotaped in the living room of my home.”

“Operation Wide Receiver accounted for 450 guns being lost across the border but there were two other major cases that I brought to ATF that accounted for at least another 200 guns that are now in cartel hands,” Detty related. “As a CI it was not my place to question ATF’s motives or demand a detailed plan of action. I had assumed that my efforts would truly be used to help take down a powerful cartel.”

“If you’re sincere in wanting to get to the bottom of the gunwalking scandal then you’ll need to start at the beginning and that is me and Operation Wide Receiver,” Detty advised Jones. “Throughout my time as a CI, I kept meticulous notes–some 600 pages worth. In fact, it was my journal that raised the ire of SAC Newell. Once he learned of my documentation he ordered the field agents not to accept any new cases from me. He knew immediately that my records, irrefutable and unimpeachable, would prove troublesome for him at some point in the future.”

[ ... ]

“Whoever said he was a placeholder is correct,” Detty has sadly concluded in a private correspondence to Gun Rights Examiner. “He doesn’t care a bit about changing anything at ATF.” 

Meet the new boss … same as the old boss.  Don’t rename it, just get to the bottom of the illegalities and then get rid of the damn organization.

Trey Gowdy On Contempt For Holder

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 2 months ago

So Eric Holder has been held in contempt of Congress.  Good.  And the Congress should continue the quest for the truth in its examination of the depths of lawlessness in Fast and Furious – and its coverup.

Representative Trey Gowdy tells us why this is necessary.  Honestly, I’m jealous.  The South Carolina upstate area, Greenville-Spartanburg, has some great people.  Representative Gowdy is one of them, and we need more like him.  If the entire Congress consisted of men like this we wouldn’t be in such a mess on so many levels.  This is worth the time – please ignore the glitch at about 3:28 into the video.

Report: Gun-Walking Not Part Of The Plan

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 2 months ago

From Politico:

A new report on the botched Fast and Furious operation that has landed Attorney General Eric Holder on the hot seat alleges that contrary to popular belief, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives never meant to allow guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

The lengthy story, published Wednesday by Fortune after a six-month investigation, claims that according to law-enforcement agents directly involved in the operation, ATF did not intentionally let arms cross the U.S.-Mexico border so they could end up in the hands of criminals on the other side.

“They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn,” the report says.

Featured prominently in the story is Dave Voth, a former Fast and Furious supervisor for the ATF who came under fire in 2011 when an agent publicly accused supervisors of ordering subordinates to purposefully refrain from seizing weapons in the hopes that the guns could lead them to criminals. One such gun has been linked to the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

The story charges that “the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies,” and accuses some lawmakers, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), of seizing on and amplifying the initial allegations to “score points” against the Obama administration.

You don’t say?  So the very player who was responsible for implementing the corrupt strategy at the ground level, and who certainly doesn’t want to be the first to go down if this all unravels, is claiming that it was all botched rather than intentional.  Take careful note how this is all couched, i.e., in language of frustration over the lack of tools to do the job.  In this case, tools = laws and regulations.

That’s right.  They are still going after laws and regulations, as if Voth began the approach, go just so far into the thick of it, and then to his great surprise, suddenly figured out that there was no set of regulations that allowed him to do this, or abetted his efforts, or gave him the latitude to pull all of this off.  The disingenuous part of all of this is that there is no possible world in which any set of U.S. regulations assists the ATF in tracking weapons when they get into the hands of criminals and war lords South of our border.  In order for any U.S. regulation to apply, they would have had to do that which Voth specifically forbade, that is, interdict the weapons before they crossed the border.

Voth’s approach is the same as the one used by Dianne Feinstein: blame it all on lack of regulations and laws.  And for an administration that claims Fast and Furious had nothing to do with a push for increased regulation, they sure seem to want more regulation out of all of this mess.  Of course, this is all reason enough to continue the mission towards complete openness, beginning with a vote of contempt concerning Eric Holder.

As a side bar, I haven’t followed Fortune very closely, but for Politico to parrot the talking points only sullies their own reputation.  Every time I read Politico I have even less respect for them than I did the time before.  They are quickly becoming an un-serious group of folks.

Last Ditch Meetings To Avoid A Contempt Vote On Eric Holder

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 2 months ago

From John Parkinson and Jake Tapper:

Days before the House of Representatives is scheduled to take an unprecedented vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, Obama administration officials and House Republican aides met today at the White House in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the standoff over documents related to the Fast and Furious gunwalking operation.

Those participating in the meeting included White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, Justice Department associate deputy attorney general Steven Reich and staff representing House Speaker John Boehner and Oversight and Government Reform chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, although neither lawmaker was there.

At the meeting, GOP staffers from the speaker’s office and the Oversight and Government Reform committee were permitted to briefly look at about 30 pages of documents, but both sides were unable to strike an agreement to avoid the contempt vote Thursday.

The hour-long meeting was described by a senior Obama administration official and GOP congressional sources as “picking-up on the offer DOJ made last Tuesday to the Committee” and was a product of a previous conversation between the speaker’s office and the White House.

“At the time [last week], Republicans rejected the offer because they claimed to be uncomfortable making a deal without seeing the documents,” the administration official told ABC. “In response, today we reached out and showed them a representative sample of the documents so they could see first-hand the types of communications in contention. This offer would result in the committee getting unprecedented access to documents showing how the Department responded to the Committee’s inquiry and would dispel any notion of an intent to mislead Congress.”

A congressional GOP aide who asked not to be identified also told ABC the offer was essentially the same as what Holder had presented Issa at the Capitol a week ago: A promise to make a compilation of documents available if the committee ends its investigation and takes contempt off the table. That offer was flatly rejected again today.

Republicans also asked the White House today whether it was willing to make a log available of the documents that the president would continue invoking executive privilege over, but the officials made clear that was “off the table,” according to a congressional source.

Fox News calls this a last ditch effort to resolve the contempt issue with Eric Holder.  This is one branch of our government holding another branch accountable.  At least back when I attended grammar and middle school, Americans were being taught that the branches of government have means to do this, and the practice of it is called balance of power.

There is no reason to attempt to avoid the vote.  The fast and furious scandal is the most significant and obscene lawlessness in any administration in recent history, and maybe ever in American history.  Congress has a duty to act.  As Glen Tschirgi observed:

Congress has an absolute duty to exercise its Constitutional power to oversee and reign in (when necessary) the excesses of the Executive Branch.   While there have been calls for the appointment of independent counsel (formerly known as a “special prosecutor”), those calls have been directed at the Obama Administration to make that appointment, presumably under Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution known as, “The Appointment Power.”   But this power is not the exclusive prerogative of the Executive Branch.  According to the case of Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988), Congress has the power to indirectly appoint “inferior officers” such as Independent Counsel by directing the Judiciary to make such an appointment with its approval.   This power arises for the very reason that the Executive Branch cannot always be expected to cooperate in appointing an Independent Counsel when Executive wrongdoing is involved.

And recall what I have mentioned before concerning the walking of guns into Mexico for use by criminals and war lords.  “The trafficking of weapons in violation of the National Firearms Act and Export Control Act isn’t a “mistake.”  It’s an illegality.”  As one astute and knowledgeable individual described to David Codrea:

While the ATF, and by extension the USGOV, did not formally sell (or provide) weapons to straw purchases and physically deliver these weapons across the border to into a foreign sovereign nation, the ATF and the USGOV was/were the intellectual author(s) of a comprehensive plan to facilitate the sale and illegal export of weapons to a foreign country. As such, the ATF and the USGOV are the intellectual authors of a conspiracy (I am not an attorney, but use the word “conspiracy” in a broad sense) to illegally export weapons to a foreign country.

Those exports were a clear violation of US weapons export laws, and the USGOV knowingly conspired and allowed those weapons to leave the United States without, (1) A valid US Department of State Export License, (2) a valid End Use statement signed by an appropriate Mexican GOV authority attesting as to the use and end destination of the weapons, and (3) a valid Import License issued by the GOV of Mexico documenting approval for the weapons to enter Mexican sovereign territory. It would not be a stretch to suggest that one could successfully argue that the ATF’s actions, and by extension the USGOV, by facilitating these exports are: (a) complicit in illegal arms trafficking in violation of US weapons export law as codified by ITAR (DOS export regulations), and (b) complicit in a violation of Mexican law by knowingly allowing the weapons to transit into Mexican sovereign territory. Whether the USGOV could be found complicit or guilty of arms trafficking under international law (apart from ITAR and Mexican law) is not something I could speak to. I would, however, offer the following: (1) If any individual or any private group of any national origin had coordinated such an operation, the full legal powers of the Mexican government, the USGOV, and Interpol (not legal powers strictly speaking) would have been brought to bear on that individual or group (witness international arms trafficking prosecutions over the last 20 years), each of those government/other entities would have competed to get the arrest and prosecution headline in their national newspapers, that individual or group would have been immediately detained and incarcerated pending charges, charges would most likely be not in the dozens but in the thousands (as each weapon trafficked can be made to count for several if not dozens of individual violations), and all assets (financial and other, whether or not gained from trafficking) would be seized, and (2) if this were conducted by any number of sovereign countries – in particular any Latin American or African country – perhaps Ecuador facilitating transit/delivery of weapons to the FARC in Colombia, or South Africa providing weapons to a sub-Saharan civil war (create any scenario you wish) – that country facilitating the weapons transit would likely suffer several consequences: (1) The low-level individuals involved, if found by international authorities would be incarcerated (but likely they would never be found), (2) an international court (and perhaps the USGOV under previous administrations) would call for all top level GOV officials (Minister of Defense, Minister of Justice, and perhaps the President – as they are all in the chain of corruption) to be held accountable and tried – and perhaps extradited and (3) the country in question would be labeled as an international pariah, perhaps sanctioned, and certainly black-listed from purchasing and selling weapons and “bellic materiel” from the “civilized nations”.

Thus – the “who knew what when” and the “who told you not to release material that my office requested” etc. is nice to know but gets away from the real issue. The real issue is that the USGOV, through the ATF, was the intellectual author of an illegal arms trafficking operation that violated both US law and Mexican law – and perhaps international law. That is institutional and governmental corruption of the worst kind, above and beyond a few AKs crossing a border.

Far from something to be avoided, holding Eric Holder and the DoJ accountable is a year late.  But it’s better late than never.

UPDATE: Thanks to David Codrea for the link.  Also, I concur with his expectation that the NRA flex its significant muscle concerning this scandal.  David remarks:

The NRA must be involved. Now is not the time to avoid confirmation, now is the time to show the leadership it claims, and that its membership expects of it.

Turning to their politically potent candidate rating process, they can and should make it clear that a contempt vote will be scored, as will members of the GOP leadership thinking about going squishy. If they will not play this card, and before it’s too late, gun owners deserve to know why.

UPDATE: NRA promises to score the vote.


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