Obama Moves On Guns

Obama is announcing his new gun policies right now. I’ll post as I get updates. There are apparently 23 executive orders. I’ve looked over them quickly and I don’t really see anything terribly objectionable. Most of it is strengthening exiting law and the background check system. Here they are, with my commentary. None would have prevented Sandy Hook. But if you’re looking to reduce gun violence overall, they do address that.

1. “Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.”

2. “Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.”

3. “Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.”

All three of these are reasonable ways of improving the background check system and are orders to federal agencies not requiring new laws.

4. “Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.”

As long as any new proposed categories go through Congress, this is fine.

5. “Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.”

Again, as long as we get to see the rule before its implemented. We have, for very good reasons, grandfathered people in on background checks. We don’t want to set a precedent of seizing guns to do a retroactive check.

6. “Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.”

7. “Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.”

8. “Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).”

9. “Issue a presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.”

All of these are programs within the Justice Department. I would like to see some commentary on the legality of gun traces.

10. “Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.”

11. “Nominate an ATF director.”

We don’t have an ATF director? Seems we should, no?

12. “Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.”

I suspect this will be a waste of money, but it seems within the powers of the DOJ providing they have Congressionally-approved funds for this sort of thing.

13. “Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.”

This is more of a goal than an actual policy.

14. “Issue a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.”

This may be controversial. Congress has specifically prohibited the CDC from engaging in anti-gun advocacy which has been interpreted to ban all research. Given the Nanny Staters tendency to make loud noises with bogus research (the claim that obesity killed 400k people a year, claims on second-hand smoke), they are right to be suspicious of this. I do think we should clarify what the CDC is and is not allowed to do on this subject.

15. “Direct the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.”

16. “Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.”

17. “Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.”

Words words words. No problem with words. I’m not sure if the ACA does or does not prohibit doctors from asking about guns, so that might be an issue. I believe several states, including Florida, have banned doctors from asking about guns.

18. “Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.”

19. “Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.”

I’m not sure what this means but it sounds like a waste of money. These events are very rare and any preparation for a once in a thousand year event is likely a waste.

20. “Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.”

Words.

21. “Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.”

22. “Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.”

Finalizing ACA regulations would probably be a good idea anyway, no?

23. “Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.”

Ooh, a dialogue! Dialogues solve so many problems.

The executive orders cross me as a non-issue. Almost all of them relate to clarify or writing regulations and soap-box stuff. The only substantive objections might be lodged at 14 (the CDC) and 16 (ACA). I don’t think any of this will help but I don’t think it will hurt. And it’s certainly not the tyrannical gun grab everyone was clamoring about.

The real substances is what he has asked Congress to do. It is, again, largely expected: universal background checks, assault weapons ban, magazine limits and tougher penalties for illegal sales. I suspect, apart from the penalties, most of that is DOA in Congress. But if we could create a system that would allow easy cheap universal background checks, I would be in favor of that. It would not have prevented Sandy Hook. But it might make a dent in the broader issue of gun violence.

Really, this is a non-event. Almost everything was as expected. And it’s largely going nowhere.


More Fast, But Not Furious Enough

The Fast and Furious investigation is over, right? All a big paranoid delusion by the Right Wing, right? Hahaha! Those crazy Right Wingers and their theories.

Wrong:

A new report by our partners at Univision has found additional links between violent crimes in Mexico and guns involved in the Obama administration’s flawed “Fast and Furious” operation.

Fifty-seven previously unidentified weapons tied to the operation — allowed to “walk” across the U.S. border into Mexico so ATF agents could trace them – were later found at the sites of murders, kidnappings and at “two gruesome massacres,” Univision’s Gerardo Reyes and Santiago Wills report.

The reporters made the discovery by cross-referencing a list of guns registered with “Fast and Furious” and a Mexican government list of the roughly 60,000 guns recovered at crime scenes in 2009 and 2010.

In July, a congressional investigation into the program reported 122 weapons had been traced to Mexican crime scenes. The Univision report adds 57 weapons to that list.

By the way, there are still 1200 guns unaccounted for. Even if we accept the DOJ’s excuse that this program started under Bush (it didn’t really, but let’s play their game), does the Justice Department bear no responsibility for this? Does the Attorney General bear no responsibility? You know I hate playing the “if Bush did it” game, but … Univision’s report literally shows blood in the streets. Does anyone here think that, had this happened five years ago, we’d be hearing about it from fucking Univision?

This isn’t over. This is only going to get worse and worse.

Excusing the Inexcusable

Yesterday, Fortune ran a long article claiming that there is no “there” there in Fast and Furious. The article does clear a few things up, such as the ATF not actually “walking” guns into Mexico. However, some things bothered me about it. For one, it never addresses why the Administration first claimed no gun walking occurred, then retracted that claim. It never asks why they are witholding documents that are not related to criminal investigations and are related to how they decided to respond politically. And, most important, it relies heavily on interviews with the ATF agents who are under investigation. Surprise, surprise — they blame the attorneys who refused to issue arrest warrants for people the ATF knew were running guns.

Today comes not one but two responses, pointing out big problems with Fortune’s six-month investigation. The biggest problem is that Fortune left out a key fact: that the ATF ordered gun dealers to stop questioning people buying large numbers of guns:

And gun dealers who cooperated with the ATF report a shift in policy that coincided with Fast and Furious — from stopping sales and questioning customers, to telling store owners to just go ahead and sell the guns. While Fortune reports that the ATF had no chance to interdict the guns that might have killed Border Patrol agent Brian Terry — the shop that sold the guns informed the ATF that the transaction was suspicious, but it was a holiday weekend and the fax wasn’t seen for days — the gun store’s owner has said he was told in advance to go ahead and sell guns to people he normally wouldn’t. The entire Fortune piece seems to neglect the distinctions between probable cause for an arrest, the act of at least questioning people who are trying to buy guns illegally, and the ATF’s advice to store owners that they refuse to make any sale that they “doubt” is legal. A big part of Fast and Furious is that store owners were told to make illegal sales when the ATF couldn’t follow up on them or chose not to.

Exactly. I know gun dealers. They don’t just hand over a gun to any Tom, Dick or Harriet that walks into the store. They are human beings and don’t want to sell to someone they think is suspicious. The ATF essentially told them, “We got this” when they clearly didn’t.

I’m still shocked that so many on the Left want to just write this off as if it’s no big deal. I don’t buy the conspiracy theories that this was a deliberate ploy to support gun control. But you don’t have to buy the conspiracy theories to see that someone fucked up. And you don’t have to buy them to see that the Administration is trying to sweep this under the rug.

Gunrunner update: Letter showing ATF circumvented the law to expidate operation.

The Examiner has a post up that is frankly baffling and validates the concern expressed by many of us that when you look at the evidence, dismiss the implausible, and are left with the facts, logic dictates that this operation had nothing to do with stopping the flow of guns and everything to do with actually getting guns in the hands of drug cartels to kill people. It seems like the people at the Examiner got their hands on evidence that the ATF authorized direct sales of arms to Mexican cartels, which should, at a minimum, be a criminal endeavor, considering they had to know that once these crossed the border they would lose track of them and that they would be used to kill people.

A letter forwarded on Friday by a proven reliable source to Gun Rights Examiner and Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars documents Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives management authorizing the sale of firearms, which sources say were intended for delivery to cartel purchasers as part of the “Fast and Furious” / ”Gunwalker” scandal. Written by then-ATF Phoenix Group VII Supervisor David Voth, the June 01, 2010 letter to a Federal Firearms Licensee, whose name is redacted, advises:

Per Section925(a)(1) of the Gun Control Act (GCA) exempts law enforcement agencies from the transportation, shipment, receipt, or importation controls of the GCA when firearms are to be used for the official business of the agency.

Please accept this letter in lieu of completing an ATF Form 4473 for the purchase of four (4) CAI, Model Draco, 7.62×39 mm pistols, by Special Agent John Dodson. These aforementioned pistols will be used by Special Agent Dodson in furtherance of the performance of his official duties. In addition, Special Agent Dodson has not been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. If you have any questions, you may contact me at telephone number 602-605-6501.

A hand-written note at the bottom says:

Picked up guns 6/10/10

Paid Cash [underlined in original]

Remember, if we are to believe the facts, and I do, the Mexican government was not aware of this operation being run on their soil and against them. The usual defenses that they where trying to “track guns” don’t fly, unless the intent was to then say the Mexican cartels where getting their arms from the US. What good would that do anyone, huh? The attempt to “Blame Boosh” is also nothing but bullshit intended to deflect and confuse the issue at hand. Pretense that the higher ups, including the DOJ and even the WH where not involved, and that this was all an ATF exclusive fuck up, have already been debunked. One can be forgiven for concluding that the sole viable reason for this operation was to get guns in the hands of Mexican cartels, with the full knowledge they would be used to kill people – count is upwards of 200 directly attributed to arms from this operation, now – because those deaths where wanted. What other logical reason would there be to want people to be killed I ask, if it wasn’t to use that to sway public opinion?

The facts are simple: we are left with the ATF buying guns, CASH, and shipping them to Mexico, where they where used to kill not just Mexicans, but then also US border patrol agent Terry. Body count seems to be the objective. It now also looks like they tried to cover up these clearly criminal actions once this thing went south, with the DOJ running the show and the FBI likely responsible for tampering with and even destroying evidence at the scene where Brian Terry was murdered, by throwing the director of the ATF under the bus. This government ran an operation in Mexico with the intent of using the body count to get something back here at home. And this is going on right as the left is losing the battle in court to disarm the citizenry they look down upon and get around the 2nd Amendment they so despise.

They are all in full cover up mode, but the truth is coming out. Nixon got in trouble for far less. And Watergate I remind you cost nobody their lives. This criminal operation killed over 200 Mexicans and a border patrol agent. I guess we all learned another firearm safety rule too: guns are dangerous in the hands of leftist autocrats, hell bent on disarming the peasants they so want to control without the fear of them fighting back. I am sure our usual deniers will find issue with this and claim I am wrong for pointing these things out. They will even demand facts, dismissing the facts that have come out backing me up in the process, without blinking an eye.

And the LSM is doing more of the same. Wish they where as gung-ho about a real crime against the American people as they where about their chance to take down Nixon. What a disservice they are doing the American people which should know how the nanny staters hold them in such low regard that they are willing to help murder people to convince them they should give up their right and ability of self defense.

Fast and Furious Fallout

Accountability, people!

The ATF has promoted three key supervisors of a controversial sting operation that allowed firearms to be illegally trafficked across the U.S. border into Mexico.

All three have been heavily criticized for pushing the program forward even as it became apparent that it was out of control. At least 2,000 guns were lost and many turned up at crime scenes in Mexico and two at the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.

The three supervisors have been given new management positions at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. They are William G. McMahon, who was the ATF’s deputy director of operations in the West, where the illegal trafficking program was focused, and William D. Newell and David Voth, both field supervisors who oversaw the program out of the agency’s Phoenix office.

This goes beyond the usual “sweeping under the rug” that happens with law enforcement. We’re not talking about a situation where someone was shot in a botched drug raid or evidence was witheld in a murder case or homeless man was brutally beaten. We have a situation where idiocy and incompetence fed hundreds of weapons into the hands of criminals. We would have been better off selling the guns directly to drug gangs and cutting out the middle men.

It gets worse. McMahon is now working in the Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations, which investigates misconduct. No word on whether he’ll be pulling a Captain Renault with this scandal.

Now I can just hear the liberals spitting rice cakes out of their mouths and sputtering, “Well, this is an internal thing to the ATF. The Democrats aren’t to blame!” But responsibility in our government rolls up, not down. Just as our Commander-in-Chief bears responsibility when soldiers act badly, the chief law enforcement officer bears responsibility when federal agents fuck up. That’s the way things work, especially when there is growing evidence that the Attorney General was aware of what was going on and the Administration is dragging their heels on the investigation. But even if Obama had nothing to do with Fast and Furious, he bears responsibility. Responsibility is the price of authority.

Everyone involved in this needs to be suspended pending a full investigation. Promotion shouldn’t even be on the menu. But … that’s the way things work in the Federal government and the way they have always worked. The federal agents responsible for Ruby Ridge and Waco weren’t held responsible either.