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Standing Guard

By Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President

Clearing The Fog On Gun Smuggling

With the growing evidence of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ participation in a massive illegal gun smuggling operation into Mexico, BATFE’s leadership and their media enablers have cranked up a fog machine to cover the federal government’s reported complicity in the murders of countless Mexican citizens and in a shootout that left one federal agent dead.

The smoke screen begins with the absurd notion that BATFE is hampered by “paltry resources.”

There is nothing “paltry” about the $80 million to cover the BATFE’s “Project Gunrunner,” a border operation believed to employ more than 220 full-time agents and perhaps as many inspectors and support personnel.

Using all of those “paltry resources,” BATFE produced virtually nothing of any value in terms of criminal prosecutions, according to two scathing Justice Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports.

As a result, BATFE created a panic response project, appropriately called “Fast and Furious,” to disprove the OIG’s conclusions.

The BATFE recklessly ignored alerts from conscientious gun dealers of massive suspicious purchases, and instead “monitored” that criminal activity—allowing guns to “walk” across the border. All of this was kept secret from Mexican authorities and from the BATFE’s own attaché in Mexico City, for fear the operation would come under harsh criticism.

The only way the BATFE could learn the whereabouts of those firearms is when the Mexican government or domestic authorities seized them—often after use in violent crimes.

The media generally bought the BATFE’s spin about U.S. gun stores being the source of drug cartel firepower—until one of the “walked” guns ended up at the scene of the Arizona murder of border patrol agent Brian Terry in December 2010. Terry’s murder sparked a series of remarkable reports by CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

And that gets us back to the BATFE/Justice Department fog machine.

The professional apologists are also falsely criticizing what they claim are the nation’s “weak laws,” instead of citing the agencies’ abject failure in prosecuting criminal violations of existing federal laws.

The truth is—as you and I know—there are no such thing as “weak laws” when it comes to criminal use and commerce in firearms.

With respect to the activities that the BATFE “monitored” at cooperating gun stores, “straw purchases” cover multiple felonies with tough penalties.

It is a felony to obtain a firearm for a prohibited person; to obtain a firearm intended to be used in a crime; to make “a false oral statement”; to provide false identification; or to lie on the Form 4473.

As for individual smugglers who purchased large quantities of firearms—virtually all of which were reported to the BATFE by dealers as suspicious potential criminal activities—there is a felony offense of “engaging in the business without a license.”  If drugs are involved, there are additional harsh penalties.

But among the gun control ruling elite, there is a new, big lie—that the BATFE “Fast and Furious” debacle happened because there are no laws against international gun trafficking.

First of all, there is another fact totally overlooked in this whole steaming mess: When it comes to smuggling across international borders, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has jurisdiction, not BATFE.

Try this very clear mission statement:

“ICE investigates cases involving the illegal export of munitions, small arms and weapon sanctions violations. It also has primary jurisdiction over investigations related to smuggling firearms across our border. …”

As for “weak smuggling laws,” the same mission statement says:

ICE “… possesses some of the broadest authorities of any U.S. government agency.”

So all of this business about “weak laws” is just cover for widespread BATFE-sanctioned gun smuggling.

As a result, and with the urging of NRA, investigations have been opened in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.

Efforts by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee have been met with stonewalling and obfuscation. BATFE and U.S. Justice Department officials have refused to answer Congressional written inquiries. Furthermore, BATFE’s acting director has initially refused to testify, leading Rep. Issa to issue subpoenas to get to the bottom of what he terms “a deadly serious matter.”

The Justice Department is claiming that this congressional oversight is harming internal investigations, and you and I can guess the results—the words whitewash and cover-up come to mind.

As the Obama administration’s stonewalling intensifies, Sen. Grassley and Rep. Issa will need your help. Contact your members of Congress and demand support for the investigations. Getting at the truth and dealing with it is critical to the future of our Second Amendment rights and freedom.