The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms set up a nutty plan to sell weapons to drug operations in Mexico. This would supposedly lead the BATF to drug lords. The plan was called “Fast and Furious.” The supposed “sting” operation backfired. The BATF has been publicly embarrassed. Its director was asked to step aside. Of course, the only punishment that matters to a federal agency is a budget cut. This never happens.
It turns out that the BATF planners had another goal in mind: getting tighter regulations in the USA. That would have dramatically increased the BATF”s authority, leading to a budget increase. CBS News has revealed details.
ATF officials didn’t intend to publicly disclose their own role in letting Mexican cartels obtain the weapons, but emails show they discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called “Demand Letter 3”. That would require some U.S. gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or “long guns.” Demand Letter 3 was so named because it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information.
So, Fast and Furious was a kind of sting operation inside the USA. It involved using gun stores to entice “criminals” to reveal themselves.
On July 14, 2010 after ATF headquarters in Washington D.C. received an update on Fast and Furious, ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait emailed Bill Newell, ATF’s Phoenix Special Agent in Charge of Fast and Furious:
“Bill – can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks.”
As you might expect, Second Amendment rights groups are furious about this aspect of Fast and Furious.
This revelation angers gun rights advocates. Larry Keane, a spokesman for National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade group, calls the discussion of Fast and Furious to argue for Demand Letter 3 “disappointing and ironic.” Keane says it’s “deeply troubling” if sales made by gun dealers “voluntarily cooperating with ATF’s flawed ‘Operation Fast & Furious’ were going to be used by some individuals within ATF to justify imposing a multiple sales reporting requirement for rifles.”
CBS reports: “Several gun dealers who cooperated with ATF told CBS News and Congressional investigators they only went through with suspicious sales because ATF asked them to.” So, this was basically a sting operation, with this difference: nothing the buyers of guns did was illegal.
In April, 2010 a licensed gun dealer cooperating with ATF was increasingly concerned about selling so many guns. “We just want to make sure we are cooperating with ATF and that we are not viewed as selling to the bad guys,” writes the gun dealer to ATF Phoenix officials, “(W)e were hoping to put together something like a letter of understanding to alleviate concerns of some type of recourse against us down the road for selling these items.”
The ATF’ assured the dealer that he had nothing to worry about.
Two months later, the same dealer wrote the BATF,
I guess I am looking for a bit of reassurance that the guns are not getting south or in the wrong hands…I want to help ATF with its investigation but not at the risk of agents (sic) safety because I have some very close friends that are US Border Patrol agents in southern AZ as well as my concern for all the agents (sic) safety that protect our country.”
“It’s like ATF created or added to the problem so they could be the solution to it and pat themselves on the back,” says one law enforcement source familiar with the facts. “It’s a circular way of thinking.”
The Justice Department and ATF declined to comment. ATF officials mentioned in this report did not respond to requests from CBS News to speak with them.
In short, the BATF has been “stung” by CBS. Its response: play turtle. Wait for this to blow over.
You would think that Demand Letter 3 would be dead by now. On the contrary, it’s going ahead.
Two earlier Demand Letters were initiated in 2000 and affected a relatively small number of gun shops. Demand Letter 3 was to be much more sweeping, affecting 8,500 firearms dealers in four southwest border states: Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. ATF chose those states because they “have a significant number of crime guns traced back to them from Mexico.” The reporting requirements were to apply if a gun dealer sells two or more long guns to a single person within five business days, and only if the guns are semi-automatic, greater than .22 caliber and can be fitted with a detachable magazine.
On April 25, 2011, ATF announced plans to implement Demand Letter 3. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is suing the ATF to stop the new rules. It calls the regulation an illegal attempt to enforce a law Congress never passed. ATF counters that it has reasonably targeted guns used most often to “commit violent crimes in Mexico, especially by drug gangs.”
The noose is tightening. If you plan to exercise your Second Amendment rights, now is the time.