The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is under fire by Republicans and conservatives yet again. And for good reason.
First it was the “Fast and Furious” operation in Phoenix, where ATF agents allowed illegal gun sales that were believed to be ultimately for Mexican drug cartels in order to track the buyers and sellers. It resulted in about 1,300 weapons’ being unaccounted for by the ATF. Two weapons linked to the operation turned up in connection with the murder of a U.S. border patrol agent, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was cited for contempt of Congress.
Now it is Operation Fearless in Milwaukee. There the ATF covertly opened a store called “Fearless Distributing,” which sold designer clothes, athletic shoes, jewelry, and drug paraphernalia. The undercover ATF agents working behind the counter of this storefront-sting operation “let it be known” that they were willing to buy guns and drugs. The sting operation resulted in the seizure of 145 guns, including some sawed-off shotguns, stolen guns, and guns with obliterated serial numbers. Charges were filed against about 30 people, mostly for low-level drug sales and gun-possession counts. ATF spokesman Special Agent Robert Schmidt said that “he is convinced the operation didn’t bring crime to the neighborhood and instead made the streets of Milwaukee safer.” “Our number-one responsibility is denying criminal access to firearms and that is what we are trying to do,” he said. “It is our duty to purchase these firearms to protect the American public and citizens of Milwaukee.” He “declined to say how much the sting operation cost.”
But the sting operation also resulted in “a string of mistakes and failures.” No major drug dealers were ensnared, nor were any gangs “taken down.” Instead, an ATF military-style machine gun ended up on the streets, the store was robbed of $35,000 worth of merchandise, such high prices were paid for guns that some defendants simply bought guns from local stores for resale to ATF agents, and the ATF is in a dispute with the building’s owner over utility bills and damage to the 8,000 square feet of the building that was rented for $3,200 a month in cash. Residents of the area “are angry the ATF secretly drew drug dealers and gun-toting felons to their neighborhood.”
Read more via Abolish the ATF The Future of Freedom Foundation.