Court Decision, Drug Lord’s Capture Illustrate Ongoing Fallout of Operation Fast & Furious

A sharp memory and respect for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms go hand in hand.

The Second Amendment, after all, was written by those who had only recently fought their way to independence from a tyrannical monarchy that had ceased to recognize American colonists’ basic human and legal rights. Memories of King George III’s abuses of power, and particularly the Redcoats’ attempts to disarm the patriots, were fresh in the drafters’ minds. The idea that a once benign government could descend into despotism was more than just political theory to them; it was their lived experience.

As the Obama Administration enters its final year, American gun owners can look back on a long train of abuses during the past seven years that reveal the impulse to disarm loyal Americans is alive and well. Perhaps none illustrates the depths to which the administration has been willing to sink, however, more than the Fast & Furious scandal. 

For those whose memories of that debacle have grown dim, news of the past week has refocused the public’s attention on one of the Obama Administration’s most shameful episodes.

Fast & Furious was an ill-conceived “law enforcement” operation in which agents allowed straw purchasers to buy firearms illegally in the United States and take them into Mexico without being apprehended. The deliberate decision to let the guns “walk” was supposedly so the agents could track them to their ultimate destination of the drug cartels that funded their purchase.

The agents, however, lost track of more than 1,300 firearms, a number of which began showing up at the scenes of murders in Mexico. Meanwhile, the administration was using the recovery of American firearms at Mexican crime scenes to push for national gun control in the U.S., including a requirement that licensed dealers in Border States register certain rifle sales with the government. Needless to say, the administration had not revealed that some of those crime guns wound up in Mexico under the U.S. government’s own supervision.

Things finally came to a head on December 14, 2010, when U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout with drug traffickers who were armed with a gun that had been allowed to “walk” during Operation Fast & Furious. ATF whistleblowers then came forward, and the scandal began receiving investigative attention from Congress and the media.

On October 11, 2011, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the United States House of Representatives (the Committee) issued a subpoena to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for documents related to Fast & Furious. After the administration failed to turn over all the requested material, the Committee sued, and a federal judge on September 30, 2013 denied the administration’s motion to dismiss the case. The White House continued its defiance, however, claiming it was entitled to withhold all documents created on or after February 4, 2011. 

The significance of February 4 arose from a letter sent on that date by Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich toSenator Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) that denied ATF had intentionally allowed illegally purchased guns to “walk” into Mexico. After the true nature of the operation became clear, that falsehood was “retracted” by DOJ on Dec. 2, 2011. The committee therefore sought records that would help explain who in the administration knew what, and when, and why it took so long for DOJ to provide accurate information to Congress.

The administration, however, insisted that all relevant records created on or after February 4 were shielded by “executive privilege,” and refused to release them. The administration’s refusal to cooperate eventually led to a historic vote by the House of Representatives to hold then-Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal and civil contempt of Congress. The June 28, 2012 vote was Congress’ first such rebuke against a sitting attorney general.

Now, after years of further negotiations and legal wrangling, a federal judge (appointed by Obama) ruled [recently] against the administration’s claim and ordered the release of thousands of additional documents. While the Committee did not get everything it requested, the ruling represents a victory in the effort to impose transparency and accountability on an administration that has been sorely lacking in both. In response to the ruling, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the Committee, pledged to “continue investigating until we get to the truth.”

The judge’s order requires the documents to be produced by February 2. Whether the administration will appeal the decision, and if so whether that deadline will be suspended, remain to be seen.

In the meantime, the fallout of Operation Fast & Furious continues. Coincidentally, on the same day the court ruled against the Obama administration, sources confirmed to Fox News that a .50 caliber rifle involved in Fast & Furious was recovered from the hideout where notorious Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was recently captured. Guzman was taken into custody after a gun battle with Mexican officials during which one Mexican marine was wounded and five of Guzman’s men were killed. Investigation into the origins of other firearms seized from Guzman’s lair continues.

While Eric Holder’s tenure as attorney general has ended, America’s gun owners still have to endure another year with his boss in the White House.  Meanwhile, the citizenry of Mexico, and perhaps even the United States, will have to endure the continuing violence wrought by the administration’s deliberate arming of drug cartels. 

That’s why you should remember Fast & Furious, and other more recent abuses, and vote for candidates this November who will respect and promote the Second Amendment. If America’s gun owners don’t turn out in force at the ballot box in this crucial election year, it will be your hard-won freedoms that become a distant memory.

© 2016 National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action. This may be reproduced. This may not be reproduced for commercial purposes. 

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