Washington Post writer Sari Horwitz came off a three-month plagiarism suspension just in time to run an Obama administration-shopped smear of Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform who has been instrumental in exposing Operation Fast and Furious.
The administration’s surrogates are doing their best to suppress the story, and the Post is emerging as their primary media defender. The plot to smear Issa failed miserably and backfired, in that it exposed the Post as a rabidly partisan rag that would run smears turned down by left-wing blogs.
On Sunday, the Washington Post editorial board made another run at deflecting the administration’s blame in a new editorial, in a dual-pronged assault that sought to make the National Rifle Association (NRA) the villain while limiting the scope of the problem to being issues within the ATF:
Concerned to the point of paranoia about the erosion of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, the National Rifle Association and far too many lawmakers have fought against virtually every proposal to empower the bureau to better track and crack down on illegal firearms. They have won reductions in the ATF’s already meager budget. They have restricted the bureau’s ability to share information with other law enforcement agencies. They have kept the bureau rudderless for the past six years by blocking confirmation of new directors. And they continue to fight new rules that would allow the bureau to track bulk sales of long guns that have played a major role in the drug-fueled violence in Mexico.
One could very reasonably conclude — as many Americans have — that we are a nation awash in overly restrictive laws that affect only the law-abiding. State legislatures across the country have agreed with this premise in recent years, leading to a raft of legislation to enable law-abiding citizens to carry firearms in more places, openly or concealed.
But the Post isn’t interested in debating current trends in gun law or the success these laws have had in decreasing violent crime in those areas in which the laws have been implemented. Their goal is to attack the gun lobby with grim and unsupportable generalities — and to obfuscate the depth of the Gunwalker scandal:
The ATF had hoped to move against higher-ups in the chain of command, but the operation went awry when the bureau lost track of 2,500 weapons, some of which have now been traced to criminal activity south of the border. Two such weapons were found in December at the scene of the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General and Congress are investigating, understandably. The probes could help to explain what went wrong and what could or should have been done differently. But Capitol Hill’s intense interest in the ATF should not stop there.
Lawmakers should give the ATF the tools it needs to fight illegal gun trafficking. They should enact stronger penalties for straw purchases and craft a federal gun-smuggling statute; close the gun-show loophole, which allows buyers under certain circumstances to purchase weapons without a background check; resuscitate the ban on assault weapons; and give the ATF the authority to collect data on multiple sales of long guns in border states. The Senate should move quickly to confirm a director for the long-leaderless bureau.