Earlier this year, former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, Attaché to Mexico (basically their bureau dhief in that country) Darren Gil told reporters and congressional investigators that he only learned about the gunwalking scandal known as Operation Fast & Furious after he had retired and the operation began making news in the blogosphere and the press.
But Gil also said that he and his team in Mexico detected the surge in guns that Fast & Furious generated as early as the latter part of 2009 – within weeks of the initiation of the gunwalking scheme. Gil reported that the sudden spike in crime guns being traced back to the Phoenix, Ariz., area caused immediate concern and that he quickly reported the analysis to his superiors and the Phoenix ATF office, but that the problem continued to grow, causing tension between his office and his Mexican law enforcement counterparts.
When he demanded to know why the investigation, into what was obviously a major gun trafficking operation, was not yielding results and staunching the flow, he was told that the investigation was ongoing and that he was to leave it alone – and not to share his analysis with Mexican authorities.
While Agent Gil’s statements have been rightly recognized as a scathing indictment of the Fast & Furious operation and the people directing it, a very important aspect of his account has been largely overlooked – or studiously ignored: If the flow of guns from Fast & Furious was clearly discernible by Gil and his analysts in late 2009, at the very beginning of gunwalking operation, then the reports of an “iron river” of guns flowing from U.S. gun dealers to Mexican drug cartels is obviously a lie.
While assertions of politicians, bureaucrats and media stooges that 90 percent or 70 percent or, most recently, 64,000 of 94,000 guns seized in Mexico originated in the U.S. are open to debate and nuance, the fact that an ATF analyst was able to spot a surge of guns coming from Arizona during the initial stages of Fast & Furious is extremely telling.
If indeed there were an “iron river” of guns flowing from the U.S. to Mexico, the addition of a few dozen guns a month over a few months should have barely created a ripple, but clearly it created a visible wake leading right back to Phoenix. Certainly the fact that so many of the Fast & Furious guns came from just a few ATF-directed shops would make the trail more obvious, but even so, in a sea of guns, such a connection should not have been so easy to spot.
And, according to Gil, not only did his office make the connection, but Mexican authorities, not privy to Gil’s analysis, also detected the surge and were demanding answers from Gil as to why ATF seemed incapable of plugging an obvious hole in the dike.
Agent Gil’s account lends support to speculation that the real purpose of Fast & Furious was not to snare Mexican drug lords, but to inflate the numbers of guns sourced from north of the border, thereby generating evidence for stricter gun laws in the U.S.
Whether that was the primary objective of the scheme is unclear, but I am sure that to the ATF higher-ups, it was a recognized and welcome side-effect. What I do know is that many of the weapons I commonly see in photographs of seized drug cartel arsenals are not readily available anywhere in the U.S. – legally or illegally. They are military machine guns, grenades and munitions that are as strictly controlled in the U.S. as they are in Mexico.
The U.S.-Mexico border was completely open for a century and barely controlled for decades afterwards. It is still very porous, but it is much tighter today than it has ever been in history. Over those many years there have doubtless been tens of thousands of guns transported from this country into Mexico both legally and illegally for every imaginable purpose from killing varmints on the farm, to meat hunting, to personal protection and, yes, crime. It is to be expected that a very high percentage of the firearms existent in Mexico originated in the U.S. That, in itself, is no indictment of U.S. gun laws.
The question today is where the guns that are being used in the ongoing drug wars in that country are coming from and whether anything can be done to cut off the supply. More specifically, the question is whether stricter gun laws here would seriously impact Mexican criminals’ ability to wage war on each other and the Mexican authorities without infringing on U.S. citizens’ rights.
One of the talking points we have been hearing a lot recently is that the ATF is an agency seriously hampered in their important work by political wrangling over gun laws and that we in the “gun lobby” deprive them of the tools they need to effectively do their job.
What does not get much media attention is the fact that ATF has a long and bloody history of shifting their enforcement efforts from dangerous criminals to persecuting good people who trip over confusing and nonsensical laws and regulations. The otherwise law-abiding citizens are safer targets, and their arrests inflate arrest statistics, which translates to larger budgets.
There are some 300 million legally owned firearms in this country in the hands of some 80 million responsible gun owners. We are not the problem. If we were, crime in Mexico would be the least of the government’s worries. We oppose gun laws and regulations, not because we support Mexican criminals, but because we have learned through hard experience to mistrust those who enforce those laws.
Ruby Ridge was instigated by ATF over an accusation that Randy Weaver had sawed two shotgun barrels a quarter inch too short. The Waco tragedy was instigated by ATF over an accusation that a couple of members of the Branch Davidian Church were selling semi-auto to full-auto conversion kits at gun shows. And it was the ATF that coerced gun dealers into selling thousands of guns to traffickers – guns that they knew they would not see again until they turned up at murder scenes in Mexico.
Examples of ATF and overzealous state and local law enforcers destroying lives and businesses over harmless infractions of complicated laws are too numerous to list. All of these laws were passed on a promise of reducing crime, but there is no evidence that any of those thousands of laws have ever had any significant impact on crime or criminals.
Gun control is a lie. The “iron river” is a lie. The ATF is swimming in lies, and it is the responsibility of every American to reject the lies and the liars and to demand the truth. What was the real objective of Fast & Furious? How did they expect to achieve that objective? Who authorized the operation? And who is responsible for the ongoing cover-up?