The Los Angeles Times confirms it: the rifles used to murder U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry were “allowed” to slip into Mexican hands by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Clearly, the agency is trying to get out ahead of the scandal. “Sources said U.S. authorities did not have the ability to adequately monitor the movement of the guns toward the southern border, in part because current laws and low levels of staffing.” In other words, the ATF is blaming the criminal conspiracy that led to a man’s murder on federal bean counters who’ve hamstrung their valiant efforts to stop guns from crossing the U.S. – Mexican border (even though they were engaging in said traffic). By extension, given the Washington Post’s take on ATF funding, they’re blaming the NRA. It gets worse . . .
“My worst fear was that they would be used in a homicide of a Mexican military official or a Mexican police official. It crossed my mind that they would be used against U.S. forces, but I didn’t think it would happen this soon,” said another federal law enforcement source.
This soon? So these unnamed feds were expecting the smuggled guns to be used against U.S. law enforcement officials eventually? Pardon my French, but how fucked-up is that? The question now becomes how far up the food chain this fiasco extended. Here’s an indication . . .
Federal sources confirmed that there has been controversy over the program within the bureau and, at least in the early stages, little communication with Mexican authorities, many of whom are often targeted with U.S.-smuggled weapons.
“Should they have been notified? I think you’re correct,” said one source familiar with the investigation.
“The policy [until Project Gunrunner] has always been we don’t allow any weapons to cross south of the border, because then it’s out of our hands and we can’t control it,” he said.
But the complaints were “overruled,” he said, by both the Phoenix office and bureau headquarters in Washington, D.C.
And who, pray tell, might those taxpayer-funded officials might those be? The stonewalling is breaking out all over. Again, the ATF line: we’re underfunded and sometimes guns slip through. Here’s the conclusion of the LA Times piece:
Agents are hampered in following up [on straw purchases, Tom Mangan, spokesman for the bureau’s Phoenix office] said. “An individual could buy 500 guns, and painfully, we know that’s legal. And then they can turn around and say, ‘I sold them.’ And then again, realistically, say you have a list of these guns, if some of them would turn up in Mexico, it’s, ‘I just sold them; they’re not my responsibility; I don’t know how they got there.'”
TTAG knows for a fact that this is bullshit. New Mexico’s largest gun dealers tell us [via friends] that they have NEVER sold more than two rifles at a time. Not that they wouldn’t have. Just that they don’t; there isn’t demand. Not ten years ago. And not now. The ATF’s Iron River is an illusion, as is any idea that they are somehow not to blame for supplying guns to the men who murdered Agent Terry.