Now that I’ve spent the morning not winning friends and alienating people, let’s do it again! So, for the record, I’d like to state that the United States does not need the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. There’s nothing the agency does that couldn’t be done as well by several other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and State Police. Doing away with the ATFE would save U.S. taxpayers over $1b a year, and eliminate some of the bureaucratic infighting and inefficiency that threatens our safety and security. Now, remember when President Calderon blamed his country’s violence on American gun runners and the Congress applauded? Well now they’ve reached into your wallet and found $37.5 million extra for the ATFE to piss in the wind on the issue . . .
You may remember that the ATF and sometimes E announced that they’re forming seven—count ’em seven—new teams to fight the impossible fight: interdicting guns flowing from the U.S. to Mexican drug lords. Doing nothing whatsoever about the guns that flow from the Mexican Army to Mexican drug lords. Ahem. So the Agency’s press release gives us the 411 on their 911 on the dance floor.
As a result of the 2010 emergency supplemental appropriation for border security, ATF received $37.5 million for Project Gunrunner, ATF’s comprehensive firearms trafficking strategy to disrupt the illegal flow of firearms into Mexico. With this funding, ATF will establish and place firearms trafficking groups along traditional and newly-discovered firearms trafficking routes and hubs in Atlanta; Dallas; Brownsville, Texas; Las Vegas; Miami; Oklahoma City; and Sierra Vista, Ariz.
Lives are being lost to violent crime every day on both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border, said [Deputy Director Kenneth E.] Melson. Through Project Gunrunner and its GRIT [Gun Runner Impact Team] initiative, ATF is shutting down the supply routes of firearms traffickers along the border and further inland.
Shutting down? Really? As in closed for good? Or do they mean “trying to” shut down? That’s tough talk. And here’s some more.
We are fighting on a crucial front here today to reduce violence in our own communities, and to disrupt and dismantle the southbound supply of weapons to the cartels, said [United States Attorney, District of Arizona, Dennis K.] Burke. We will not be a gun locker for the cartels, who have made murder and mayhem their modus operandi. We will not tolerate violent criminals and others who illegally possess, purchase or sell firearms.
Burke announced that 96 defendants have been arrested, charged, convicted or sentenced since June 2010 on gun-related charges. The majority of defendants include violent felons, drug traffickers who use weapons, and those trafficking firearms to Mexico. Cases involved more than 370 guns — many of them AK-47 style rifles and other weapons of choice of drug cartels — and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition smuggled into or destined for Mexico. Some of the guns seized in the investigation, including a .50 caliber weapon, were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico.
Hang on; 370 guns, some of which were recovered in Mexico? Anyone want to take a guess what percentage of any one drug lord’s army’s collection that represents? Or how many pesos it cost U.S. taxpayers per gun to recover those 370 weapons? And were all those 96 defendants collared in the United States, or does that stat slyly include Mexican cases? And what of that “or” in Burke’s statement? How many of those 96 were sentenced on gun-related charges?
Look, I’m not against fighting illegal gun sales. But it’s not an either or proposition: either send in the ATFE or live with it. If you want to stop Mexican drug lords from shooting people, you’re going to have do something other than stopping a few hundred or even thousand guns from going south of the border. The drug lords are rolling in cash. They could pay $100,000 per gun and not be all that bothered. So they’ll get the guns.
You want to stop drug gangs from killing people in Mexico? How about liberalizing Mexico’s gun laws so that the people they terrorize can stand up to them? Or arrest the criminals. Jail them. Execute them where appropriate. Oh wait; I have a better idea: let the Mexican government do it. I mean, it is their country isn’t it? Sovereign nation and all that. And if you think that we’re responsible for the carnage because we create the demand and send them the dollars, then legalize dope and be done with it.
Meanwhile, don’t expect the ATFE and its lame duck leader to do anything significant on the Mexican drug war front—other than helping pandering pols tell gullible voters that “we’re doing something.” Truth be told, in this case, something is only marginally better than nothing. And a thousand times as expensive.