Guns and Gun Rights
We’ve been told for some time that violent crime in America is actually at its lowest point since the 1970s.
But we’re also being told by a certain element that gun deaths are out of hand and we need to reconsider tightening our gun laws.
So lets take one of those “perspective” looks shall we?
First a chart that takes us through 2004 showing murders by firearms:
As an aside, the Assault Weapons ban was in effect from 1994 to 2004. Assault weapons would be found under “other guns”. You’ll note that “other methods” and knives, for the most part, were involved in more murders than “assault weapons” (further note that not all “other guns” were “Assault Weapons”, but may have been hunting rifles or shotguns). Rifles of any sort just aren’t the usual weapon of choice for murders.
Also note that murders of all types have been trending down over the years. If you hit the link in the first sentence, it will show you that in 2004 the number of violent crimes per 100,000 was 463.2 and in 2010 it had fallen to 403.6.
If you add handguns and “other guns” from the chart in 2004, you see approximately 10,500 to 11,000 murders by firearms.
The most recent FBI figures show just 358 of the 8,775 murders by firearm in 2010 involved rifles of any type.
By the way, the article that was pulled from noted that in 2010, more people were beaten to death by fists (758) than were killed by “other guns”, aka rifles of any sort.
Michael Wade does the math:
So, based on these two sites (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_households_are_in_the_US)(http://www.gallup.com/poll/150353/self-reported-gun-ownership-highest-1993.aspx) there were approximately 115 million households in 2010, and between 41% and 49% (depending on how you do the numbers) had firearms in them.
That’s a minimum of 57.5 million arms (if we assume one firearm per household, which we know isn’t even close to the right number).
If we then assume that each of the 8,775 murders was committed by a separate firearm from a different household each time (again, an assumption we know is wrong but increases the number of households involved), then approximately 0.015% of American households who owned guns were involved with murder by firearm in 2010.
Again, these assumptions make that percentage much higher than it actually is since (a) undoubtedly more households have firearms but don’t report them, (b) households with firearms will typically have more than just one, and may have several, (c) one firearm likely accounted for more than one of the 8,775 murders, and (d) the vast majority of the murders were likely committed with firearms that were illegally possessed!
Even so, slightly more than one one-thousandth of one percent of gun owners is the highest amount you are going to be able to implicate in murder by firearm, despite all the generous assumptions made in favor of the gun control side.
That does not speak to a winning argument IMHO.
No it sure doesn’t, not that they won’t try anyway. Additionally, when you do the math about chances of being a victim of firearm murder, the figure 312.8 million is what you need to divide into the 8,775 yielding a terrifying 0.000028% chance of being a victim of a firearm murder in 2010 (if you’re a gambler, though, move to Chicago and you can quickly reduce the odds).
In fact, you’re much more likely to die from one of these causes than a gunshot murder:
Chance of dying from any kind of injury during the next year: 1 in 1,820
Chance of dying from intentional self-harm: 1 in 9,380
Chance of dying from an assault: 1 in 16,421
Chance of dying from a car accident: 1 in 18,585
Chance of dying from any kind of fall: 1 in 20,666
Chance of dying from accidental drowning: 1 in 79,065
Chance of dying from exposure to smoke, fire, and flames: 1 in 81,524
Chance of dying in an explosion: 1 in 107,787
Life is perilous, but for the most part, not because of guns.
As someone recently said, we don’t need gun control, we need idiot control. Not sure how we control the idiots, but I’m sympathetic to the idea. Statistically though, the number of firearm murders per year simply doesn’t justify any renewed call for banning or restricting the sale or possession of firearms.
I ran across an article in Forbes by Mark Gibbs, a proponent of stricter gun control, in which he thinks, given a certain technology, that gun control in reality may be dead.
That technology? 3D printers. They’ve come a long way and, some of them are able to work in metals. That, apparently led to an experiment:
So, can you print a gun? Yep, you can and that’s exactly what somebody with the alias “HaveBlue” did.
The receiver is, in effect, the framework of a gun and holds the barrel and all of the other parts in place. It’s also the part of the gun that is technically, according to US law, the actual gun and carries the serial number.
When the weapon was assembled with the printed receiver HaveBlue reported he fired 200 rounds and it operated perfectly.
Whether or not this actually happened really isn’t the point. At some point there is no doubt it will. There are all sorts of other things to consider when building a gun receiver (none of which Gibbs goes into), etc., but on a meta level what Gibbs is describing is much like what happened to the news industry when self-publishing (i.e. the birth of the new media) along with the internet became a realities. The monopoly control of the flow of news enjoyed by the traditional media exploded into nothingness. It has never been able to regain that control, and, in fact, has seen it slip even more.
Do 3D printers present the same sort of evolution as well as a threat to government control? Given the obvious possibility, can government exert the same sort of control among the population that it can on gun manufacturers? And these 3D printers work in ceramic too. Certainly ceramic pistols aren’t unheard of. Obviously these printers are going to continue to get better, bigger and work with more materials.
That brings us to Gibb’s inevitable conclusion:
What’s particularly worrisome is that the capability to print metal and ceramic parts will appear in low end printers in the next few years making it feasible to print an entire gun and that will be when gun control becomes a totally different problem.
So what are government’s choices, given its desire to control the manufacture and possession of certain weapons?
Well, given the way it has been going for years, I’d say it isn’t about to give up control. So?
Will there be legislation designed to limit freedom of printing? The old NRA bumper sticker “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” will have to be changed to “If guns are outlawed, outlaws will have 3D printers.”
Something to think about. I think we know the answer, but certainly an intriguing thought piece. Registered printers? Black market printers? “Illegal printers” smuggled in to make cheap guns?
The possibilities boggle the mind. But I pretty much agree with Gibbs – given the evolution of this technology, gun control, for all practical purposes, would appear to be dying and on the way to dying.
They are as predictable as sunrise after something like Aurora. But, the gun banners have less of a leg to stand on now than they did way back then, although some, like Ezra Klein, try to make the case with selective statistics and the usual arguments. Howard Nemerov takes the time to demolish both.
The fact is there has been less violent gun crime since the lifting of the ban than when it was in place. In fact, we haven’t seen this low a level of violence since 1972, even while the number of guns in the country increased.
So attempting to find some correlation between the number of guns and amount of violence seems not to be there.
That doesn’t stop those who would ban your access to guns from trying. And one of their favorite means is by trying to ban scary guns … er, I mean assault weapons.
Much like politicians who rely on the public’s economic ignorance to sell economic policy that is, frankly horrible, they do the same with gun bans.
Assault weapons. Scary. Used in war. Kill bunches of people. As opposed to “regular” weapons which I guess aren’t as scary, aren’t used in war and, presumably as such logic must go, don’t or won’t kill bunches of people.
Perhaps a graphic is the best way to refute that “logic”:
It isn’t the way the weapon looks that makes it dangerous, it’s the nut wielding it. Banning so-called assault weapons is about as effective as banning cars that look like the one in the top left. If the idiot behind the wheel of the one on the right decides to drive it into a crowded sidewalk, are the people he kills any less dead because it didn’t look like the car on the left?
Of course not. The common denominator? The nut using the tool.
Not the tool.
With the shooting in Aurora (lived there as a kid), CO, the usual suspects are calling for the usual remedy – stricter gun control.
How does the American public feel about such measures? Rasmussen says that in the wake of the mass shooting in CO, the percentages for and against stricter gun control remain pretty much the same, with an overwhelming majority saying stricter control isn’t a solution.
So, to the politics of the incident – how does one make that message, “we need stricter gun control”, a positive in this campaign (or any campaign?)? They don’t try if they’re smart.
Then there’s another indicator poll. What this one points out, in my opinion, is the fact that if Romney can keep the debate focused on the economy and off the extraneous nonsense the Obama campaign will try to distract the voting public with, he stands a good chance of winning.
Despite concerted Democratic attacks on his business record, Republican challenger Mitt Romney scores a significant advantage over President Obama when it comes to managing the economy, reducing the federal budget deficit and creating jobs, a national USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.
By more than 2-1, 63%-29%, those surveyed say Romney’s background in business, including his tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation’s economic problems over the next four years.
The findings raise questions about Obama’s strategy of targeting Bain’s record in outsourcing jobs and hammering Romney for refusing to commit to releasing more than two years of his tax returns. Instead, Americans seem focused on the economy, where disappointment with the fragile recovery and the 8.2% unemployment rate are costing the president.
So, with questions raised about the Obama strategy, what is a incumbent with a bad economic record he doesn’t at all want to visit if he can help it do if his current attacks aren’t having an effect? Throw something else extraneous to the real problem he doesn’t want to talk about out there and see if it sticks to the wall. And count on the media to pitch in and try to help it stick.
That’s how it has worked so far.
I see no reason he’ll alter his tactics.
That said, clearly if Romney can continue to stay on message and get that message out there he has a majority constituency who are with him.
The poll goes on to say that Obama holds a “likeability” advantage over Romney. Yeah, well, unsaid is what 4 years of a high “likeability” index have gotten us. And, as should be clear, most voters don’t like it.
That, at least to me, is the pregnant question. He had a number of other options but 4 months from a critical election, chose the most controversial and potentially damaging one.
Let’s begin with a quote from a former White House counsel from a Powerline post:
Even with his fawning press, [President Obama] will pay a price for this one. He knows this, meaning that the documents now to be withheld must be dynamite. They have to show either that Holder knew what was going on with Fast and Furious and approved it, or that he directly committed perjury in his Congressional testimony, or both. I just can’t see any other explanation for such a risky move.
Wasn’t the Washington Post just covering big time the 40th anniversary of Watergate? I wonder how much coverage this one will get.
That’s the result of the move – speculation that the documents being withheld point to perjury by Holder or the President, or both.
So let’s break this down a bit. If it was all about Holder, why would the president risk this sort of a controversial move this close to an election. It’s not like he’s never thrown anyone under the bus. In fact James Carville is on record advising Obama to dump Holder.
Obama had the option, then, of letting Holder face contempt charges (not much happens as we’ve seen in the past, to those who are served with contempt of Congress charges) and drag out the document release until after the election.
With the election season gearing up, it is likely that while the controversy would have been an issue, it wouldn’t have been a major issue. Now it certainly is.
He could have asked Holder to resign. He could have then used the opportunity to appear as a statesman, a leader and bi-partisan all in one fell swoop. Depending on how he handled that it could actually have been a positive for him heading into an election. In the meantime, an acting AG could continue to delay on providing documents.
But he did neither of those things. For some unknown reason (at least to this point) he chose to do the least likely and most politically damaging thing – invoke executive privilege. As the lawyer quoted has said, those documents must be “dynamite” to have the president make this move.
And, unsaid by the lawyer is the speculation that the documents show the involvement of the White House to a degree that is damaging – apparently more damaging than the speculation and attention this move by the President has brought.
David Kopel at Volokh Conspiracy gives you a great history of the controversy. As for the documents Kopel notes:
According to Attorney General Holder, the DOJ has 140,000 documents related to Fast & Furious. Fewer than 8,000 have been provided to Congress pursuant to subpoenas. The contempt vote has been narrowed to 1,300 documents. In refusing to comply with the House subpoenas, the DOJ has refused to create a privilege log–which would identify withheld documents, and the legal reason for their being withheld.
Matthew Boyle at the DC caller points out that Holder has retracted two previous statements he made to Congress where he gave them inaccurate information in an attempt to blame previous AGs or administrations. It seems that’s a standard operating procedure with all parts of this administration. So Holder is left holding the bag all by himself on this one, or so it seemed, at least, to the point that executive privilege was invoked.
That brings us to these 4 point by Todd Gaziano at the Heritage Foundation about the use of executive privilege:
First, the Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon (1974) held that executive privilege cannot be invoked at all if the purpose is to shield wrongdoing. The courts held that Nixon’s purported invocation of executive privilege was illegitimate, in part, for that reason. There is reason to suspect that this might be the case in the Fast and Furious cover-up and stonewalling effort. Congress needs to get to the bottom of that question to prevent an illegal invocation of executive privilege and further abuses of power. That will require an index of the withheld documents and an explanation of why each of them is covered by executive privilege—and more.
Second, even the “deliberative process” species of executive privilege, which is reasonably broad, does not shield the ultimate decisions from congressional inquiry. Congress is entitled to at least some documents and other information that indicate who the ultimate decision maker was for this disastrous program and why these decisions were made. That information is among the most important documents that are being withheld.
Third, the Supreme Court in the Nixon case also held that even a proper invocation must yield to other branches’ need for information in some cases. So even a proper invocation of executive privilege regarding particular documents is not final.
And lastly, the President is required when invoking executive privilege to try to accommodate the other branches’ legitimate information needs in some other way. For example, it does not harm executive power for the President to selectively waive executive privilege in most instances, even if it hurts him politically by exposing a terrible policy failure or wrongdoing among his staff. The history of executive–congressional relations is filled with accommodations and waivers of privilege. In contrast to voluntary waivers of privilege, Watergate demonstrates that wrongful invocations of privilege can seriously damage the office of the presidency when Congress and the courts impose new constraints on the President’s discretion or power (some rightful and some not).
The key point, of course, is executive privilege cannot be used to “shield wrongdoing”. While it is speculative, it appears highly likely – given the other options available – that executive privilege is being used for precisely that reason in this case.
Additionally, given the choices available to the President, it is not at all out of bounds to speculate that the most transparent administration in history is trying desperately to hide something even more terrible than the political fallout from this choice.
The White House cites internal discussions and ongoing investigations are the reason for its denial and claims the investigations would be jeopardized with the release of the documents. But, as Gaziano points out, accommodations can be made in that regard. The total number of documents requested is 1,300. The White House is simply refusing to cooperate or accommodate.
We’re still left with that question.
And the answer, given the actions to date, lead to some logical speculation – what is contained in those documents is much more damaging politically than the damage done by the decision. Additionally, Obama can’t afford to let Holder go because if he does there’s the potential that Holder will then spill the beans.
Oh, and finally, this move has suddenly brought Fast and Furious to page one and the top of the newscast like nothing else could. The majority of the country, which was mostly ignorant of this scandal are now in the loop.
As the cited former White House counsel said, “the documents now to be withheld must be dynamite.” In fact, they must be so explosive that the White House is desperate enough to try to weather this self-inflicted political storm in lieu of exposing them.
That says a lot.
I mean, really (NSFW, foul language alert)!
Mr. Fast and Furious –, whose idiotic operation supposedly (and officially) designed to trace firearm flow in Mexico (there is a very strong case for a political gun control agenda actually driving the operation) has led to one and possibly two deaths of Border Patrolmen — is suddenly concerned about criminals and their access to “illegal firearms”:
The number of officers killed in the line of duty jumped 13 percent in 2011 compared with the year before — and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder condemned the increase as “a devastating and unacceptable trend” that he blamed on illegal firearms.
The number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty rose to 173 this year, from 153 in 2010, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund announced Wednesday. This year’s figure is 23 percent higher than 122 killed in the line of duty in 2009.
Yes, law enforcement is dangerous work. Yes, I feel for the families of those officers slain. This, however is not some sort of record year (see 2001) and in fact, in most years more officers are lost to traffic accidents than to “illegal firearms”.
Additionally, I’m sure the Mexican law enforcement officers killed by the guns Holder’s department allowed to flow into their country find this concern of his particularly hollow. Why it could even be considered … wait for it … racist. I just throw that out there as an example of what some GOP AG would have been hit with by the left had he or she been so stupid as to run an operation like Fast and Furious. Anyway:
Holder said “too many guns have fallen into the hands of those who are not legally permitted to possess them,” in explaining the increase.
Yes, Mr. Holder, that’s why they are called “criminals”. In case you haven’t figured it out criminals are scofflaws. Like the criminals you supplied with guns and ammo in Mexico.
Criminals break the law. So obviously passing laws making it a criminal offense for criminals to possess firearms doesn’t work, huh? It also is a problem when you just hand them firearms as well.
But, as we’ve surmised, Fast and Furious was supposed to set up a “better case” for more gun control, right? And one can assume the stealth premise, soon to be obvious, is the way to keep criminals from getting illegal firearms is to more tightly control them. That, of course, means more “gun control”, doesn’t it?
“This is a devastating and unacceptable trend. Each of these deaths is a tragic reminder of the threats that law enforcement officers face each day,” Holder in a statement. “I want to assure the family members and loved ones who have mourned the loss of these heroes that we are responding to this year’s increased violence with renewed vigilance and will do everything within our power — and use every tool at our disposal — to keep our police officers safe.”
You mean just like you did for Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Mr. Holder?
Incompetent political hack.
Remember early on when the controversial and failed ATF/DoJ operation “Fast and Furious” came to light where the ATF bought guns and allowed them to be smuggled into Mexico, there was conjecture this was to be used as a means to demand more gun control?
CBS has uncovered some emails where it become pretty clear what the ATF’s intent was during the operation:
On July 14, 2010 after ATF headquarters in Washington D.C. received an update on Fast and Furious, ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait emailed Bill Newell, ATF’s Phoenix Special Agent in Charge of 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."
On Jan. 4, 2011, as ATF prepared a press conference to announce arrests in Fast and Furious, Newell saw it as "(A)nother time to address Multiple Sale on Long Guns issue." And a day after the press conference, Chait emailed Newell: "Bill–well done yesterday… (I)n 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."
But here’s the problem for the ATF – those multiple purchases demonstrated nothing but cooperation with them as requested by them. The gun dealers involved only did what they did at the request of the ATF and even then they were (as it turns out, properly) even concerned about that:
In April, 2010 a licensed gun dealer cooperating with ATF was increasingly concerned about selling so many guns. "We just want to make sure we are cooperating with ATF and that we are not viewed as selling to the bad guys," writes the gun dealer to ATF Phoenix officials, "(W)e were hoping to put together something like a letter of understanding to alleviate concerns of some type of recourse against us down the road for selling these items."
ATF’s group supervisor on Fast and Furious David Voth assures the gun dealer there’s nothing to worry about. "We (ATF) are continually monitoring these suspects using a variety of investigative techniques which I cannot go into detail."
Two months later, the same gun dealer grew more agitated.
"I wanted to make sure that none of the firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF agents could or would ever end up south of the border or in the hands of the bad guys. I guess I am looking for a bit of reassurance that the guns are not getting south or in the wrong hands…I want to help ATF with its investigation but not at the risk of agents (sic) safety because I have some very close friends that are US Border Patrol agents in southern AZ as well as my concern for all the agents (sic) safety that protect our country."
Obviously the gun dealer had more concern for the life of the agents than did the ATF. But this was all an apparent ploy to advance more sweeping gun control in the area:
Two earlier Demand Letters were initiated in 2000 and affected a relatively small number of gun shops. Demand Letter 3 was to be much more sweeping, affecting 8,500 firearms dealers in four southwest border states: Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. ATF chose those states because they "have a significant number of crime guns traced back to them from Mexico." The reporting requirements were to apply if a gun dealer sells two or more long guns to a single person within five business days, and only if the guns are semi-automatic, greater than .22 caliber and can be fitted with a detachable magazine.
On April 25, 2011, ATF announced plans to implement Demand Letter 3. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is suing the ATF to stop the new rules. It calls the regulation an illegal attempt to enforce a law Congress never passed. ATF counters that it has reasonably targeted guns used most often to "commit violent crimes in Mexico, especially by drug gangs."
It’s one thing to want to “reasonably target guns” used to commit crimes in Mexico legitimately, and another to use the results of cooperation with an ATF operation, not matter how ill begotten, as a basis for targeting gun sales:
Larry Keane, a spokesman for National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade group, calls the discussion of Fast and Furious to argue for Demand Letter 3 "disappointing and ironic." Keane says it’s "deeply troubling" if sales made by gun dealers "voluntarily cooperating with ATF’s flawed ‘Operation Fast & Furious’ were going to be used by some individuals within ATF to justify imposing a multiple sales reporting requirement for rifles."
Just another version of government creating a problem and then rushing in to fix it with more government control. A sort of “create a crisis and then don’t let it go to waste” if you will. The dishonesty and cynicism is appalling. Rep. Darrell Issa, whose Congressional committed has been investigating this operation said very pointedly about this evidence:
"In light of the evidence, the Justice Department’s refusal to answer questions about the role Operation Fast and Furious was supposed to play in advancing new firearms regulations is simply unacceptable," Rep. Issa told CBS News.
This sort of behavior is, as noted, unacceptable, but, unfortunately, more and more frequent. Government becomes less and less of a servant of the people and more and more their master. Operations like this remind one of the legal veneer authoritarian governments use to gradually oppress their people.
Eric Holder and all those who planned and executed this travesty should be given their walking papers. It would be a welcome change to see them actually held accountable for their unacceptable behavior.
Yeah, that’s going to happen. We’re talking government here.
UPDATE: The Committee on Oversight and Reform has launched a website to cover the Fast and Furious investigation.
For years there’s been a concerted effort to get handguns banned in the US (not to mention the best efforts of the DoJ with “Fast and Furious” to aid that effort). And war of words has been fierce, the propaganda unrelenting and the hope eternal that the effort would succeed.
Well, it looks like the American people have looked at both sides of the argument and decided, at least for now, that those wishing to ban handguns have no case:
A record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States other than by police and other authorized people. When Gallup first asked Americans this question in 1959, 60% favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure, with opposition around 70% in recent years.
And there’s more:
For the first time, Gallup finds greater opposition to than support for a ban on semiautomatic guns or assault rifles, 53% to 43%. In the initial asking of this question in 1996, the numbers were nearly reversed, with 57% for and 42% against an assault rifle ban. Congress passed such a ban in 1994, but the law expired when Congress did not act to renew it in 2004. Around the time the law expired, Americans were about evenly divided in their views.
Why? Because, I think, concealed carry laws haven’t brought the mayhem that the advocates claimed they would. In fact, quite the opposite. And its always nice for the bad guys who may be thinking about taking you on for whatever evil reason to have to guess. Deterrence is the best form of self-defense.
Secondly, it may sound trite, but people have accepted the cliché “guns don’t kill people, people do” as a truth. It isn’t the tool that’s the problem, it’s the person using the tool.
Finally, I also believe most Americans have finally realized that self-protection and self-defense are inherent responsibilities they must discharge and can’t outsource to government. The best tool for that, ye olde equalizer, is a hand gun responsibly used.
And then, of course there’s that pesky Constitutional amendment and all.
My guess is that the dream of gun confiscation is pretty much a dead issue for right now. Obviously that doesn’t mean it won’t again arise or, like health care, a certain party won’t simply ram something through Congress if they ever get the chance again. But according to this poll, American’s don’t support it now and most likely wouldn’t support it if that was tried.
How about setting up an operation that allows illegal guns to be “walked” into another sovereign nation – a friendly nation — and see them tied to hundreds of murders. If you were that friendly nation, and had to find out about this violation of your sovereignty via the news media, would you be happy?
Of course not. And neither is Mexico. The entire “Gunwalker” fiasco was done without consulting Mexico a single time. Marisela Morales, Mexico’s Attorney General, is understandably unhappy about that.
Marisela Morales, Mexico’s attorney general and a longtime favorite of American law enforcement agents in Mexico, told The Times that she first learned about Fast and Furious from news reports. And to this day, she said, U.S. officials have not briefed her on the operation gone awry, nor have they apologized.
"At no time did we know or were we made aware that there might have been arms trafficking permitted," Morales, Mexico’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, said in a recent interview. "In no way would we have allowed it, because it is an attack on the safety of Mexicans."
Morales said she did not want to draw conclusions before the outcome of U.S. investigations, but that deliberately letting weapons "walk" into Mexico — with the intention of tracing the guns to drug cartels — would represent a "betrayal" of a country enduring a drug war that has killed more than 40,000 people. U.S. agents lost track of hundreds of weapons under the program.
How could they apologize, Ms. Morales – according to them, none of the top guys knew this was even going on (/sarc).
But the point is clear – this is either the most inept operation ever conceived and executed, or there’s some other ulterior motive to be assigned. Or perhaps both. Things like this unwillingness to notify Mexico or bring them in on the operation tend to have one consider that there might have been an alternate agenda, even if one isn’t inclined to be very open to conspiracy theories.
Anyway, back to Mexico:
Atty. Gen. Morales said it was not until January that the Mexican government was told of the existence of an undercover program that turned out to be Fast and Furious. At the time, Morales said, Mexico was not provided details.
U.S. officials gave their Mexican counterparts access to information involving a group of 20 suspects arrested in Arizona. These arrests would lead to the only indictment to emerge from Fast and Furious.
"It was then that we learned of that case, of the arms trafficking," Morales told The Times. "They haven’t admitted to us that there might have been permitted trafficking. Until now, they continue denying it to us."
Mexico is the beneficiary of the Obama open hand approach to foreign policy – a slap in the face. And that famous transparency is evident as well.
Shoe on the other foot time. How do you suppose we would react if Mexico did the same sort of thing to us? Any inkling of what would be going on now if they were letting guns walk into the US and then finding them at murder scenes?
Yeah, no arrogance to be found here.
In June, Canino, the ATF attache, was finally allowed to say something to Atty. Gen. Morales about the weapons used by Mario Gonzalez’s captors, thought to be members of the powerful Sinaloa cartel.
"I wanted her to find out from me, because she is an ally of the U.S. government," he testified.
Canino later told congressional investigators that Morales was shocked.
"Hijole!" he recalled her saying, an expression that roughly means, "Oh no!"
Canino testified that Fast and Furious guns showed up at nearly 200 crime scenes.
Mexican Congressman Humberto Benitez Trevino, who heads the justice committee in the Chamber of Deputies, said the number of people killed or wounded by the weapons had probably doubled to 300 since March, when he said confidential information held by Mexican security authorities put the figure at 150. The higher number, he said, was his own estimate.
A former attorney general, Benitez labeled the operation a "failure," but said it did not spell a collapse of the two nations’ shared fight against organized crime groups.
"It was a bad business that got out of hand," he said in an interview.
Many Mexican politicians responded angrily when the existence of the program became known in March, with several saying it amounted to a breach of Mexican sovereignty. But much of that anger has subsided, possibly in the interest of not aggravating the bilateral relationship. For Mexico, the U.S. gun problem goes far beyond the Fast and Furious program. Of weapons used in crimes and traced, more than 75% come from the U.S.
"Yes, it was bad and wrong, and you have to ask yourself, what were they thinking?" a senior official in Calderon’s administration said, referring to Fast and Furious. "But, given the river of weapons that flows into Mexico from the U.S., do a few more make a big difference?"
Still, Mexican leaders are under pressure to answer questions from their citizens, with very little to go on.
"The evidence is over there [north of the border]," Morales said. "I can’t put a pistol to their heads and say, ‘Now give it to me or else.’ I can’t."
You have to love the pistol analogy, given the circumstances, don’t you?
The official reason for not notifying Mexico that the US had decided to violate its sovereignty with this operation was ostensibly fear of corruption and that the details of the operation would be leaked to the drug cartels. OK, understood, but still it doesn’t excuse what we wouldn’t tolerate if the tables were turned. You either have a cooperative working relationship with law enforcement officials in Mexico (including all the attendant risks that entails) or you don’t. You can’t selectively choose when and when not to share information if you expect to maintain a reciprocal and meaningful relationship.
This operation has obviously done more than put guns at the scene of 200 Mexican crime scenes. It has damaged relations with a close and friendly neighboring state.