As Eric Holder’s 1995 speech on how to “change the way in which people think about guns” and make them more accepting of gun control made its rounds, the bald attempt at using Fast and Furious to justify more gun control has taken center stage. As a result, my mind has raced back again to the ATF emails that show how federal supervisors under Holder were intentionally using Fast and Furious as a springboard for the imposition of more government intrusion into our lives. This is something Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) spoke to last year when he said: “There’s plenty of evidence showing that this administration planned to use the tragedies of Fast and Furious as rationale to further their goals of a long gun reporting requirement.”
Here are the facts:
On July 14, 2010 ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait emailed William Newell, the Phoenix Special Agent in Charge who was overseeing Fast and Furious: “Bill – can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks.” Chait was looking for “anecdotal cases” to justify issuance and enactment of a new gun control measure that Congress had theretofore been unwilling to pass.
Then, on January 4, 2011, in preparation for a news conference in which he planned to announce arrests made in a case related to Fast and Furious, Newell emailed Chait to inform him that the conference would provide “another [chance] to address the multiple sale on long guns issue.” Newell took advantage of the chance, and the following day Chait emailed him: “Bill–well done yesterday … in light of our request for Demand Letter 3, this case could be a strong supporting factor if we can determine how many multiple sales of long guns occurred during the course of this case.”
Months later, in April 2011, ATF announced that it would be implementing Demand Letter 3 (and the letter was in fact implemented in the summer of 2011). It completely bypasses Congress and requires gun store owners in Arizona, Texas, California, and New Mexico to file a special report on individuals who purchase more than one long gun within a five day period, for long guns of higher than .22 cal.
According to ATF, such weapons in AZ, TX, CA, and NM deserved extra attention because those were the four states from which most weapons seemed to be going into Mexico and those were the kinds of weapons that were most often used to “commit violent crimes in Mexico, especially by drug gangs.” Ironically, ATF made no mention of the fact that those were also the weapons most commonly sold to straw purchasers for the very purpose of being illegally transported into Mexico via Fast and Furious.