Smoking Gun? Most Gunwalker Guns Targets of Ban Efforts, but Not Wanted by Cartels
On March 30, the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, Jim Brady, who sustained a debilitating head wound in the attack, and his wife, Sarah, came to Capitol Hill to push for a ban on the controversial "large magazines." Brady, for whom the law requiring background checks on handgun purchasers is named, then met with White House press secretary Jay Carney. During the meeting, President Obama dropped in and, according to Sarah Brady, brought up the issue of gun control, "to fill us in that it was very much on his agenda," she said.
"I just want you to know that we are working on it," Brady recalled the president telling them. "We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar."
In the meeting, she said, Obama discussed how records get into the system and what can be done about firearms retailers. Her husband specifically brought up the proposed ban on large magazine clips, and she noted that even former vice president Dick Cheney had suggested that some restrictions on the clips might make sense.
"He just laughed," Sarah Brady said approvingly of the president. Both she and her husband, she emphasized, had absolute confidence that the president was committed to regulation.
Washington Post April 11, 2011
Sarah Brady had every reason to believe that President Obama was zealously committed to turning the tide of more liberal weapons laws sweeping the nation.
While more states than ever were adopting concealed carry laws, shooting sports such as cowboy action shooting, IDPA, and three-gun competitions were surging in popularity, and ammunition and gun companies were unable to meet the explosive demand, the Bradys knew that President Obama would do nearly anything to impose stringent gun control laws.
They only had to look to his past.
In 1996, Obama filled out a candidate questionnaire while running for the Illinois state Senate, in which he supported state initiatives banning the manufacture, sale, and possession of handguns, and the ownership of "assault weapons."
While a state senator in Illinois in 2004, he voted against Senate Bill 2165, which asserted a right of citizens to protect themselves against home invasions with handguns despite local ordinances. The bill passed 38-20, with Obama voting against the right for citizens to defend themselves in their own homes.
Time and again throughout his career, including at the 2008 Democratic primary debate in Philadelphia and the 2008 Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas, Obama betrayed an interest in closing down "unscrupulous gun dealers." He created and believed in a boogeyman, a vile caricature of the small businessmen he decided were scapegoats for the problem of inner city violence. This, even though he knew criminals used straw purchasers that acquired the bulk of firearms in crime.
Most damningly, Obama was a director of the far-left Joyce Foundation from 1996-2004, when the group plotted to undermine the Second Amendment:
During Obama’s tenure, the Joyce Foundation board planned and implemented a program targeting the Supreme Court. The work began five years into Obama’s directorship, when the Foundation had experience in turning its millions into anti-gun “grassroots” organizations, but none at converting cash into legal scholarship.
The plan’s objective was bold: the judicial obliteration of the Second Amendment.
Joyce’s directors found a vulnerable point. When judges cannot rely upon past decisions, they sometimes turn to law review articles. Law reviews are impartial, and famed for meticulous cite-checking. They are also produced on a shoestring. Authors of articles receive no compensation; editors are law students who work for a tiny stipend.
The plot ultimately failed, but the die was cast; Obama showed his intent to undermine U.S. gun laws, whether ethically or otherwise.
Fast forward to near midnight, December 2010, in the desert in Arizona north of the Mexican border. Shot through the abdomen during a firefight with Mexican bandits, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry dies in Peck Canyon. Four suspects are arrested while a fifth evades capture. At least two AK-pattern rifles found at the crime scene are traced back to Operation Fast and Furious.
In January of 2011, ATF whistleblowers came forward and exposed the multi-agency plot, a conspiracy that involved the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Treasury, and State. More than 2,020 firearms had been "walked" from gun shops acting under orders from ATF agents through a network of straw purchasers known to the Department of Justice to the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico. Operation Fast and Furious is just one of ten alleged gun-walking operations run by the federal government in five states that may have run tens of thousands of weapons to narco-terrorists.
Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales has stated that at least 200 Mexican citizens have been murdered with firearms that the Obama administration pushed over the border; other unofficial estimates suggest that 300+ murders have been committed with guns "walked" by the Obama administration.
The question, then as now, is "why"?
Why would the White House, Senate-confirmed cabinet-level appointees, and other administration appointees conduct such a high-risk operation?
Perhaps the answer exists in the "smoking guns" themselves.
AK-pattern semi-automatics were by far the most common weapon types obtained by straw purchasers in Operation Fast and Furious, according to various reports. The imported Romanian WASR-10 rifle and its "Draco" pistol variant, AR-pattern rifles, FN Five-seveN pistols, and 50 BMG rifles made up the bulk of the weapons purchased during the operation.
AK-pattern rifles and pistols, and AR-pattern rifles are some of the most common semi-auto firearms in America. Interest in these weapons skyrocketed due to the drama anti-gun organizations drummed up when they coined the phrase "assault weapon," attaching it to these and similar firearms in order to craft the 1994 AW ban. The side effect was to make these firearms far more desirable. Today, entire shooting sports have been developed around the AR in particular.
Interestingly enough, the selective-fire versions of these weapons can be had far more cheaply on the black market than the semi-automatic version in U.S gun shops (selective-fire versions, if they can be found, require an extensive background check conducted over weeks, and cost tens of thousands of dollars). A selective fire AK-47 or AKM can be had for $100 or (far less) depending on conditions on the black market, while semi-automatic versions routinely cost $400 and up in U.S. gun stores.
AR-15 rifles routinely cost $750 for the most basic versions, and quality versions can easily run more than $1000 each. The cartels raid armories and buy selective-fire M-16 and M-4 rifles from deserting or corrupt Mexican military members for far less than the semi-automatic rifles finding their way to the cartels with federal government assistance, or obtain them from the same South American armories that they get their grenades from. It is a bit harder to pin-down a "street price" for an M-16/M-4 in Mexico, but cartels can probably obtain them for $5o0 or less.
The point, of course, is that it isn't remotely cost-effective for cartels to buy these weapons in the U.S.
Yet the AK- and AR-pattern weapons that are most bitterly opposed by gun-grabbing groups and politicians in the United States are the most common weapons purchased by Operation Fast and Furious.
This curious trend continues with Operation Fast and Furious' proclivity to purchase the FN Five-seveN pistol.
The Five-SeveN is a 5.7x28mm pistol developed as a companion weapon for the FN P90 PDW. Both were designed to use small high-velocity cartridges with low recoil signature, and the ability to penetrate soft-body armor when used with specific AP ammunition that is banned in both the United States and Mexico, except for law enforcement and military sales.
The various gun-banning organizations quickly labeled the Five-seveN the "cop killer." They attempted to claim that even the non-armor piercing ammo available to civilians could penetrate armor, and even did their own "tests." Their calls to ban the pistol increased after it was used in the Fort Hood shooting, even though we were "lucky" that the shooter used a pistol that had such little real-world stopping power. Mexican cartels do indeed like the Five-seveN, and even ape the Brady Campaign by calling it the "mata policia," Spanish for "cop-killer." Due to its 20-round magazine, unconventional cartridge, and sensationalized name, the Five-seveN is the most scapegoated handgun in America by gun control advocates.
Also, 50 BMG weapons are significant psychological weapons, in addition to being impressive physical weapons. They have tremendous penetration and range that make them excellent anti-vehicle weapons. The downside is that they are huge, heavy, and very difficult to maneuver and fire, and it is difficult to find trained marksmen to take advantage of their capabilities.
They are status symbols for cartels, and the rifle variants are used to a limited extent in specific situations. But what is interesting in particular about some of the Fast and Furious 50 BMG weapons purchased are that Barrett and TNW firearms are the most prominent purchases.
The Barrett makes sense as a status purchase or if the semi-auto variants are those being used (most 50 BMG rifles are bolt-action single-shots), but TNW weapons are built to look just like the M2 military 50 machine gun. They are massive, easy to track (TNW is one of a handful of companies that manufacture these weapons), and utterly impractical -- and yet they have been purchased by Fast and Furious and recovered in Mexico to great fanfare.
Brady and other gun control advocates have been trying to get 50 BMG-caliber weapons banned for years based upon hysteria, despite the fact that five-foot long, 30-plus pound weapons are simply not used in crimes.
Perhaps it should not be surprising that every one of the Fast and Furious weapons are among those that gun prohibitionists like the Joyce Foundation, Violence Policy Center, and Brady Campaign have tried to have banned.
Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Obama have all stated they would like to see the sales of these weapons to civilians either heavily restricted or banned outright.
So: Is it plausible that Operation Fast and Furious just happened to focus on selling the very weapons anti-gun groups want to ban south of the border with the intent that they would be used to commit murder? Knowing that cartels can either get such weapons at lower cost and less risk in Mexico, or don't need them at all?
Mike Vanderboegh, one of the bloggers who first published the ATF whistleblower revelations of gunwalking, recently received new and disturbing information that builds an even stronger case that the Obama administration may have been dictating the actions of the straw purchasers through their FBI criminal informants:
In late September 2009, ATF Phoenix Group VII supervisor Hope MacAllister walked into the Lone Wolf Trading Company. She had a message for the owner Andre Howard, according to sources familiar with the investigation into Fast & Furious in both D.C. and Arizona, and the message was this: "The amount of weapons you sell is about to dramatically increase." Howard, the sources say, was cautioned that "he might not have enough stock" to supply the straw buyers that MacAllister somehow knew were on the way and that "he should stock up on what they wanted."
MacAllister seemed to know "exactly how many weapons (the straw buyers) wanted, how much cash they had and when they would be coming in," said one of the sources.
Less than a week later, the straw buyers -- all of modest means -- began flocking to Andre Howard's shop. Operation Fast and Furious was off to the races.
Vanderboegh goes on to comment that his sources -- which include federal law enforcement agents involved in Fast and Furious that have gone on to testify in front of Congress -- explain that there are essentially two ways that Agent McAllister and other Operation Fast and Furious task force members knew that straw purchase attempts were about to dramatically increase at Lone Wolf Trading, and what they were going to buy:
- The multi-agency task force had obtained a warrant and was able to wiretap communications among the cartel members in Mexico and their straw purchases in the U.S., or;
- Federal agents, acting through FBI criminal informants known to have been part of the conspiracy, were in fact telling the straw purchasers where to go and what to buy.
The former is, of course, plausible. Months ago a PJ Media source indicated that U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco, who was outside of the "Obama clique" in the upper management of the DOJ, had signed off on Fast and Furious wiretap authorization, and was being set up by the Obama administration to be the designated scapegoat for the operation. This possibility would entail intercepting communications with Sinaloa cartel members inside Mexico, for which the task force and DOJ do not have legal authority, and which the Mexican government could not have granted since they were intentionally kept in the dark about the plot.
The latter, however distasteful to consider, is the most logical. An FBI criminal informant was operating at a level higher than that of the straw purchasers, and would have been in a position to dictate not only the stores in which to make purchases, but what to buy. Vanderboegh goes on to point out:
Much, if not all, of the "buy money" was coming from an FBI paid confidential informant, it could simply be that the ATF was being used as part of a deliberate plot to "let the guns walk" in order, as the early ATF whistleblowers related to us back in early January, "to boost the statistics" of American civilian market firearms found at Mexican crime scenes.
This "prior knowledge" information seems to answer the question of "why" behind the Obama administration's gunwalking plots. Means, motive, and opportunity are all on display.
Prominent anti gun politicians who had been aggressively promoting the "90-percent lie" were in a position to use agencies under their control to carry out a gunwalking plot that planted the evidence to support their contentions. The very guns that these politicians wanted to most control or ban outright with far stricter gun control measures were then pushed to the cartels. No wonder the president laughed about his plot to advance gun control "under the radar."
Does the list of firearms walked and recovered provide the literal "smoking gun," laying beside the bodies of the hundreds killed in one of the most insidious abuses of power in American history?