Federal Government Told Gun Dealers to Sell Guns to Drug Cartels to Justify More Gun Control

January 11, 2012

You’ve heard of the “Operation Fast and Furious” scandal?  The federal government encouraged gun dealers to sell guns to Mexican drug gangs, in theory in order to track the guns and take down drug kingpins, but the program “put thousands of weapons on the street. Many were used in violent crimes in Mexico. Two were found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.”  

I had heard some conservatives suggest that this might represent something more sinister than mere incompetence in the Obama Justice Department:  High-level officials might have actually intended the program to go awry, in order to create an argument for increased gun control.  In effect, the government would have intentionally created more crime (including murder) to justify an expansion of its own power.

I was skeptical of such speculation.  I’m generally against assuming bad motives of one’s opponents, and this perhaps sounded worse than the usual such assumptions, more like a paranoid conspiracy theory.  So I was very interested to hear that it’s apparently true.

Via Eternity Matters, Wintery Knight, and Investor’s Business Daily, CBS (which I’m sure I don’t have to tell you is not exactly a bunch of conservatives) reports,

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”.

. . .

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.”

. . .

“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.

One gun dealer even wrote to the ATF with serious concerns:

I wanted to make sure that none of the firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF agents could or would ever end up south of the border or in the hands of the bad guys. 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 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 safety that protect our country.

As we now know, his concerns were well-founded:  The guns ended up south of the border, in the wrong hands, and at least one Border Patrol agent has been killed with guns from this government program.

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5 Responses to “Federal Government Told Gun Dealers to Sell Guns to Drug Cartels to Justify More Gun Control”


  1. I see that National Review also covered this in its review of the news, in the December 31st issue (page 8). Here’s part of their take on it (more cautious than mine yesterday):

    . . . Mark Chait—an ATF higher-up who was demoted, but not fired, in the wake of the scandal— . . . was looking for anecdotes to justify a new “demand letter”—an ATF regulation that would require some gun dealers to report customers who bought more than one rifle at once. A congressional report suggests that by the time he sent this e-mail, Chait was aware that if the case involved guns that were purchased in groups, the ATF might very well have sanctioned the sales (in some cases over resistance from the dealers themselves). This does not prove the theory that Fast and Furious was intended from the beginning to create an argument for gun control, but it does show that at least one ATF official considered putting it to that use. Chait should, as also should the Justice Department, give a full explanation of what in the world Fast and Furious was meant to accomplish.

  2. eMatters Says:

    I usually avoid conspiracy theories, but in this case people were right.

  3. Snoodickle Says:

    Why wouldn’t the ATF use the gun sales as justification for bulk purchase regulations? If I’m not mistaken, the people purchasing the guns were working for the Mexican Cartels. Thus, it seems eminently reasonable that the ATF would want gun dealers to report bulk purchases of rifles for the purpose of tracking cartel activity. The fact that ATF officials openly discussed using the Fast and Furious sales to justify a new regulation is almost not even newsworthy. The only controversy lies in the fact that the ATF let the guns walk. If the ATF had apprehended the straw purchasers immediately after purchase, we wouldn’t even be discussing the fact that ATF officials had internal discussions about using the gun sales as justification for new regulations. It would be crazy not to have such discussions considering that MEXICAN CARTELS WERE BUYING GUNS IN BULK!! That would be like criticizing the DEA for encouraging controlled buys of narcotics and then using the illegal transactions to justify new drug regulations.

    Also, I keep hearing that Fast and Furious guns were found at the scene of a border patrol agent’s murder. I haven’t heard whether ballistics actually matched the weapons to the bullets that killed the agent.


  4. […] Eric Holder be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with a House investigation of Operation Fast and Furious for more than a year.  (The full House is expected to vote on it next […]


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