This week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) quietly informed the House and Senate Judiciary Committees of its intent to destroy firearms from the Obama-era, “Operation Fast and Furious” scandal.
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The decision drew a sharp rebuke from the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.
“Although the ATF apparently intends to forget its dangerous misconduct in Operation Fast and Furious, the scandal is still a matter of public concern,” he wrote in a letter to the ATF on Tuesday.
“Given the potential for ongoing criminal and possible civil actions, it is not in the interest of justice for the ATF to destroy potential evidence associated with Operation Fast and Furious,” continued Jordan.
The ATF’s decision was prompted after an audit of an ATF storage site in West Virginia where “thousands of firearms, firearm parts, and ammunition had been stolen.”
Operation Fast and Furious was the name given to an ATF “gunwalking” scheme in which straw-purchased firearms were supposed to be tracked by federal agents as they were trafficked south across the border into Mexico.
During the height of the operation, the ATF monitored the sale of roughly 2,000 firearms, of which only 710 had been recovered as of February 2012.
The operation finally came to an end after the shooting death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Dec. of 2010. An investigation into the incident found that cartel members had crossed into Arizona to hunt marijuana traffickers to rob. It further revealed that two of the rifles recovered at the scene where Agent Terry was killed were linked to Fast and Furious.
The investigation subsequently exposed the operation to the public. Eric Holder, the acting attorney general at the time, described it as “flawed in its concept and flawed in its execution.”
Making matters worse, the ATF used anecdotal cases from the operation to push gun control in the form of a “demand letter on long gun multiple sales” for FFLs in border states.
Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, joined Rep. Jordan in criticizing the ATF for wanting to destroy what is tantamount to evidence.
“Operation Fast & Furious was only one of several scandals that erupted during the Obama-Biden administration,” Gottlieb observed, “but it’s the one that cost the life of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, and untold numbers of lives in Mexico, along with crimes committed in the United States.”
“It’s hardly surprising the ATF wants to erase the public memory of this debacle, especially now that Joe Biden is in the White House,” he added.
Rep. Jordan added that Mexican authorities are still making cases based on firearms from Operation Fast and Furious, and added in his letter, “I strongly urge you to reconsider this decision and request that you preserve this evidence.”
Rep. Jordan is in line to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee next month when the GOP takes control of the chamber.
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