We have recently learned in a report issued by the Department of Justice inspector general what we have known all along: Operation Fast and Furious was a complete failure and horrible tragedy. It was a failure on the part of the Phoenix field office of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. attorney in Phoenix, who first allowed guns to walk across the border in 2006 and ramped up the dangerous tactic in 2009. It was a failure on the part of the ATF leadership. It was a failure on the part of several top DOJ officials, who should have been aware of the significant risks being taken by those under their charge.
Because of these failures, 2,000 guns flowed into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, and Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was tragically killed. Since then, the DOJ has seen to it that “gun-walking” has stopped. And as a result of last week’s report, those responsible will be held accountable.
But the Sept. 21 editorial, stressing the need to “put public safety first,” missed the broader point. The 2,000 guns allowed into dangerous hands during Operation Fast and Furious are just a drop in the bucket compared to the tens of thousands of guns that have flowed across our border as a result of our lax gun laws.
Current law allows straw purchasers to lie on their applications in order to buy thousands of AK-47s with a penalty equivalent to a moving violation. Current law allows anyone to take advantage of the gun-show loophole and purchase any gun he or she wants without a background check. And current law underfunds the ATF.