It has been widely speculated that the botched Operation Fast and Furious (more here and here) was designed by the government to strengthen the case for more gun regulations. Anti-gun advocates and the Mexican government have blamed the United States for the brutal murders that have escalated over the past few years given that many assault rifles flow from the United States to Mexico. So in theory if the ATF initiates its own little stimulus package that provides solid proof that guns from the U.S. end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartel members there will be more evidence on the table for those who want to impose stricter gun laws. From CBS News:
Documents obtained by CBS News show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discussed using their covert operation “Fast and Furious” to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales…
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.
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.”
On Jan. 4, 2011, as ATF prepared a press conference to announce arrests in Fast and Furious, Newell saw it as “(A)nother time to address Multiple Sale on Long Guns issue.” And a day after the press conference, Chait emailed Newell: “Bill–well done yesterday… (I)n light of our request for Demand letter 3, this case could be a strong supporting factor if we can determine how many multiple sales of long guns occurred during the course of this case.”
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.”
On the goal of increased gun regulations – mission accomplished:
In an effort to stem the illicit flow of weapons into Mexico, the Justice Department announced Monday that all gun shops in four Southwest border states will be required to alert the federal government to frequent buyers of high-powered rifles.
The new policy comes amid criticism of a failed federal probe aimed at dismantling large-scale arms trafficking networks along the Arizona border with Mexico.
Under the new policy, federal firearms licensees in Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico must report purchases of two or more of some types of rifles by the same person in a five-day span. The requirement applies to purchases of semi-automatic rifles that have detachable magazines and a caliber of greater than .22.
ATF estimates it will generate 18,000 reports a year.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the new reporting measure will improve the ATF’s ability to disrupt illegal weapons trafficking networks that funnel firearms to criminal organizations.
While Operation Fast and Furious is deemed as an ATF, the Justice Department, and the Obama Administration failure, it’s intended purpose seems to make it a success. It only cost the life of at least one American Border Patrol agent and countless Mexicans, both innocent civilians and rival cartel members. But from the prospective of a progressive agenda seeking to purify society of the evil of guns this was a necessary step in the right direction. That’s the historical logic behind the such ideas at least.
Exit question: What countries have you seen this type of measure taken for the good of society before?