CBS: Gun shop owner expressed concerns early on in "gunwalker" scandal
CBS News is reporting that damning, newly-obtained emails show that a key gun shop owner made explicit concerns in writing last year in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' "gunwalking" scandal.
From the report:
Starting in late 2009, ATF allegedly directed an undetermined number of Phoenix-area gun shop owners to go ahead with sales of thousands of assault rifles and other weapons to suspicious buyers. Insiders claim ATF knew the buyers were connected to Mexico's drug cartels, but let the guns "walk" onto the street anyway in a misguided attempt to obtain intelligence. ATF and the Justice Department have denied that.
Investigators from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) obtained the emails this week.
In an April 13, 2010 email, the unnamed gun shop owner told ATF he was worried how he'd be viewed if the guns he sold ended up in the wrong hands.
"We just want to make sure we are cooperating with ATF and that we are not viewed as selling to bad guys," the gun shop owner wrote to ATF Phoenix Supervisor David Voth. The gun shop owner asked for a letter of understanding to "alleviate concerns of some type of recourse against us down the road for selling these items."
ATF Supervisor Voth tried to reassure the cooperating gun shop owner. "I understand that the frequency with which some individuals under investigation by our office have been purchasing firearms from your business has caused concerns for you... However, if helps put you at east we (ATF) are continually monitoring these suspects using a variety of investigative techniques which I cannot go into [in] detail."
According to Sen. Grassley, in a letter fired off to Attorney General Eric Holder last night, the ATF arranged a meeting between the gun shop owner and the U.S. Attorney's office which is part of the Justice Department. At that meeting, Sen. Grassley says the U.S. Attorney's office declined to provide written terms but assured the gun dealer there were safeguards in place to prevent further distribution of the weapons being purchased from his business.
"As we now know, those assurances provide to be untrue," Grassley wrote.
Following is video of testimony provided by Sen. Grassley in the U.S. Capitol, detailing the email evidence, and the refusal of the Obama administration ATF and Justice Department to provide meaningful response to their document and information requests: