Forbes Reporter: Lax AZ Gun Laws Prevented ATF From Going After 18 Year Old Who Made $300,000 in Weaponry Purchases
We've had an awful lot of really terrible reporting on the so-called Fast and Furious "scandal," primarily from the right, Fox "News" and right wing hate talk and in the mean time, we also were lucky enough to have some good reporting on the issue, like Cenk here from this week, or Rachel Maddow from this week as well. This Saturday on Chris Hayes' show on MSNBC, we were treated to even more in depth coverage of the issue with this really great interview of Forbes reporter Katherine Eban.
If anyone has not read the entire article yet, here's the link: The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal.
Here's a rough transcript of the early portion of Eban's time on the show and the portion about the kids being paid for the gun walking and how ATF's hands were tied was just astounding to me, but in this day and age with the NRA having the hold it does over our members of Congress, nothing should be surprising these days.
HAYES: So Katherine, let's start with the context. I think one of the most important things about this article […] it was sort of unclear, like what was the whole problem it was set up to solve, that, it was a point unclear, like what exactly was the issue they faced? And one of the things you created is the context of this, which is that there is a massive flow right now, of weapons from the U.S. to Mexico. In fact, 70 percent of weapons recovered in Mexico come from the U.S., which is a startling statistic and that's largely due to the fact that Mexico has very tight gun restrictions and the U.S., particularly along the southwest border has particularly lax ones.
So what was the idea behind this operation to begin with?
EBAN: What's alleged or what in fact is the idea behind the operation?
HAYES: Let's go with the facts. I think the allegations have gotten a lot of time. So what was the idea?
EBAN: Basically the idea behind this ATF investigation, it's not a program, it's a single investigation called Fast and Furious was to stop straw purchasers from buying guns that they were then funneling to Mexican drug cartels.
HAYES: Explain what a straw purchaser is.
EBAN: A straw purchaser is basically somebody the cartels tap who can legally go and buy weapons, so in Arizona that might be an 18 year old kid who is not old enough to buy beer, but who, if he has no criminal record, or she, can go into a gun dealership and buy 50 AK47's, pay in cash and face no waiting period, no need for extra permits.
So there are lots of kids in Arizona for example who want to make a few extra bucks. This is what they do.
HAYES: And the cartels find them. You go and buy the gun and give them to the cartels...
EBAN: That's right, or you give them to intermediaries, who give them to the cartels.
HAYES: In one of the cases, one of the folks they investigated, the ATF, was on food stamps, but had made $300,000 in purchases of weaponry. And so the initial problem they face though, right, was what? Why didn't they just, when the straw purchaser, the 18 year old kid walks out of the Arizona gun shop, right, slap the hand cuffs on him and bring the whole force of federal law down on him?
EBAN: Because that kid just made a legal purchase, and as prosecutors determined, there was nothing in the laws that gave the ATF agents grounds to seize those guns or to make those arrests.
I mean, you can complain all you want that guns were walked. However, we are a nation of laws. And I can assure you that if ATF agents were running amok making baseless seizures...
HAYES: Of law abiding citizens purchasing guns...
EBAN: …that's right.
HAYES: ...that would have been a political firestorm.
EBAN: They would have been hauled before Congress. The reason I can say that with confidence is because that is exactly what happened in 2006, that ATF agents were hauled before Congress for making allegedly illegal seizures of suspected straw purchasers at a gun show in Virginia.
Simply astounding. But it's all Eric Holder's fault that border patrol agent was shot! I'd say there's plenty of blame to go around, starting with our members of Congress and the NRA and anyone at the state level who is voting for these very weak gun laws.
Here's part two:
And part three is below, and here's part of the transcript from that portion:
HAYES: When asked about the conspiracy theory that this “was an intentional conspiracy by the Obama administration to produce some sort of gun tragedy, which they could then use as an excuse to crack down on the 2nd Amendment, here's Chairman Darrell Issa making exactly that point. […] How plausible an account is that for you?
EBAN: There's no evidence whatsoever to support that claim and John Boehner himself has said that. You don't need to have a botched gun walking operation in order to produce evidence that we need an assault weapons ban, right, you know, the attempted assassination of a U.S. member of Congress would seem to some to be sufficient evidence.
HAYES: Which did not trigger any, I mean, there is no will on the part of... that's the irony of this whole thing of course is that the President has gotten an F from the Brady Campaign, which is the main gun control advocacy group. There is no appetite on Capitol Hill for gun legislation.
It is a sad, sad day in the United States when we can have a sitting member of Congress almost assassinated and the rest of her colleagues don't do a damn thing to make sure it doesn't happen again. It's also a sad day when we're not talking about our ridiculous drug laws and policies and how they're responsible for all of this violence as well.