Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, who's responsible for breaking much of the news in the Fast and Furious scandal, has yet another new scoop. New emails point to a possible motivation for why the Justice Department was handing over thousands of guns to Mexican criminal gangs—they were going to use the program to argue for stricter gun control laws:
ATF officials didn’t intend to publicly disclose their own role in letting Mexican cartels obtain the weapons, but emails show they discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called “Demand Letter 3″. That would require some U.S. gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or “long guns.” Demand Letter 3 was so named because it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information.
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.”
This is not the first development that suggests the Fast and Furious scandal was a scheme to get stricter gun control laws. As a I noted in a WEEKLY STANDARD article earlier this year, the Obama administration's public coordination with the Mexican government on warnings about gun trafficking across the border, combined with the Mexican government's apparent plans to retain a U.S. law firm to sue U.S. gun suppliers, pointed toward a gun control agenda as a possible motivation for the scandal.
So far a clear motivation for the Justice Department's motivations has been elusive. But if a desire to gin up support for gun regulations turns out to be behind the scandal the implications are huge. Scott Johnson of Powerline puts it this way:
If the Obama administration did arrange for the shipment of arms to Mexican drug gangs, not for any legitimate public purpose but in order to advance a left-wing political agenda, and those guns were used to murder hundreds of Mexicans and at least one American border agent–which they were–then we are looking at a scandal that dwarfs any in modern American history.