Jaime Avila Jr., who purchased guns illegally as part of a government sting operation, has been sentenced to 57 months in prison. That prompts a meditation on Operation Fast and Furious and the federal bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
Fast and Furious began with the belief of U.S. President Barack Obama and Felipe Calderon, then president of Mexico, that American guns cause violence in Mexico and that 90 percent of the guns used by Mexican drug cartels come from the United States. That was also the view of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Obama administration officials. The 90 percent figure is doubtless pure invention but the evidence is strong that the Obama administration took steps to make it real.
In 2009 federal ATF agents ordered Andre Howard, owner of the Lone Wolf gun store in Glendale, Arizona, to sell weapons to every illegal purchaser. Howard did so but the ATF lost track of 2,000 of the weapons, which did wind up in the hands of violent criminals on both sides of the border. When U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout with Mexican bandits, two weapons from Fast and Furious were found at the scene. Weapons from the operation have showed up at other crime scenes in the United States and Mexico, where in August Mexican federal police opened fire on vehicles carrying U.S. government employees. It has not been disclosed whether Fast and Furious weapons were involved in that attack.
Operation Fast and Furious goes beyond waste, fraud and abuse. It confirms that government lawlessness, plus bureaucratic ineptitude, equals death. Jaime Avila, who bought AK-47 rifles, is headed to prison but a lot of big fish escaped punishment. The Justice Department, which produced a report on Fast and Furious, approved wiretap applications for the operation. The federal government, which is supposed to maintain the rule of law, got away with this one, all to placate a foreign leader now teaching comfortably at Harvard.
With no apology to Felipe Calderon and Barack Obama, guns don’t cause violent crime. Government causes violent crime when an inept federal ATF mounts operations such as Fast and Furious.