Teapublicans, especially those in Arizona, have their tea bags in a knot over a botched 2009 sting operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives code-named Fast and Furious.
The operation, which apparently began out of frustration with the courts failure to adequately convict and punish those who provide guns to the Mexican drug cartels, focused on a group of straw buyers who purchased more than 1,500 weapons from Phoenix-area gun dealers. According to records, dozens of AK-47 type weapons would be purchased at once. The buyers would often return a few days later to buy many more weapons from the same stores. Rather than bust the buyers, ATF agents were told by supervisors to let the guns walk in hopes of tracking them to those who were directing the gun buys on behalf of the cartels.
When two of the weapons were later found to have been involved in the death of US Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry, there was understandable outrage.
The Teapublican-controlled Congress seized upon the story in order to embarrass the Obama administration. Congressman Darrell Issa even called for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder. Yet it was Teapublican interference and policies which created the environment that led to the operation.
B. Todd Jones, who has now assumed command of the bureau is the fifth “acting director” since 2006. Thanks to Teapublican obstructionism, the 5,000-employee ATF has not had a permanent director since it was spun off from the Treasury Department in 2006. All of the people nominated by the Bush and Obama administrations to regulate the $28 billion firearms industry have been opposed by the gun rights lobby, including veteran ATF agent, Andrew Traver, whose nomination has been stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee for nearly a year.
Also, Arizonas Teapublican-sponsored gun laws are at the very root of the weapons smuggling problem. The states laws, which were written by the National Rifle Association, permit any citizen who can pass a federal background check to walk into an Arizona gun shop and buy as many weapons as he or she wants. The laws are even more lax when it comes to the states many gun shows where there are no background checks.
Finally, the states laws provide little real punishment for the straw buyers. If theyre caught, they usually face charges of falsely stating that they purchased the guns for themselves, a punishment that hardly fits the crime.