Owens’ assertion was buoyed on Wednesday by internal ATF emails obtained by Townhall.com. One email reads:
Can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same FfL and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks Mark R. Chait Assistant Director Field Operations.This would seem to be a “smoking gun” for Owens’ assertion that this operation was never about crime and always about an “under the table” effort to institute the gun control Obama knew he could never push through Congress.
Additionally, Obama has just issued an executive order which requires gun dealers in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California to report multiple long gun (rifle or shotgun) purchases to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in order to combat illegal firearms trafficking along the Mexican border.
The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action fired back at President Obama’s order. Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA-ILA, said they will be filing a lawsuit against the new order the first time ATF tries to enforce it. He noted that criminals generally don’t fill out forms:
$40 billion transnational criminal enterprises don’t fill out paperwork and are not deterred by paperwork violations. This is a blatant effort by the Obama administration and ATF to divert focus of Congress and the general public from their gross incompetence in the Fast and Furious scandal. This scheme will unjustly burden law-abiding retailers in border states. It will not affect drug cartels and it won’t prevent violence along our borders. ATF and the administration lack the statutory authority to do this and the NRA will file suit as soon as ATF sends the first demand letters.Obama’s order is awash in hypocrisy per the details of the Gunwalker scandal. It was the ATF which ordered gun dealers to make multiple sales of military-style and .50 caliber sniper rifles to known and suspected straw purchasers in the Operation Fast and Furious debacle, in which more than 2,500 weapons were allowed to walk across the border by the ATF. The dealers were already reporting multiple long gun sales and the ATF told them to make the sales anyway.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform who has been investigating the mess form the beginning, said the executive order was about politics:
This political maneuver seems designed to protect the careers of political appointees at the Justice Department and not public safety. It’s disconcerting that Justice Department officials who may have known about or tried to cover-up gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious are continuing attempts to distract attention from clear wrongdoing. In Operation Fast and Furious, gun dealers didn’t need this regulation as they voluntarily provided ATF agents with information about suspected straw purchasers. In return for this voluntary cooperation, the Justice Department betrayed them by offering false assurances that they would closely monitor sales of weapons that dealers otherwise did not want to make.Sen. Charles Grassley, (R-IA), ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was equally outraged by the executive order:
We’ve learned from our investigation of Fast and Furious that reporting multiple long gun sales would do nothing to stop the flow of firearms to known straw purchasers because many Federal Firearms Dealers are already voluntarily reporting suspicious transactions. In fact, in just the documents we’ve obtained, we are aware of 150 multiple long gun sales associated with the ATF’s Fast and Furious case, and despite the fact that nearly all of these sales were reported in real time by cooperating gun dealers, the ATF watched the guns be transported from known straw purchasers to third parties and then let the guns walk away, often across the border. This makes it pretty clear that the problem isn’t lack of burdensome reporting requirements. The administration’s continued overreach with regulations continues, and is a distraction from its reckless policy to allow guns to walk into Mexico.Two U.S. law enforcement agents are dead because of this operation, and a reported 150 Mexican citizens are as well. Additionally, the guns are now showing up in U.S. crimes.