Silencers On: Oversight Democrats try to turn ATF scandal into gun control push

Democrats try to channel scandal into gun control push

Jonathan Strong
The Daily Caller

Faced with bracing evidence and the testimony of four ATF agents contradicting the Justice Department’s initial blanket denials that assault weapons were knowingly allowed to escape into the clutches of Mexican drug cartels, Democrats tried a new approach at a hearing Wednesday.

Rather than focus on questioning the GOP’s investigative tactics, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee sought to subtly channel the burgeoning scandal into a push for new gun control laws.

For instance, Rep. Gerry Connolly, Virginia Democrat, connected the apparently reckless investigative strategy to the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) lobbying pushes.

“The NRA has opposed regulations which would require tracking of multiple gun sales,” Connolly noted in a statement passed out to reporters. “The gun lobby and its advocates in Congress are even trying to pass legislation to eviscerate the ATF’s authority to stop criminals.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, New York Democrat, also drew a link between the Operation Fast and Furious scandal and whether ATF agents are plagued by “toothless” laws.

“US Attorneys have complained” that prosecutions for illegally purchasing weapons to resell to criminal networks are viewed by judges as “mere paper violations. Have you heard this criticism before?” Maloney asked the four ATF agents testifying.

“I have and I agree with it,” said Peter Forceilli, who thought a minimum sentence of one year in jail would ensure cooperation from “straw buyers” caught by federal authorities.

Darrell Issa, chairman of the Oversight Committee, sought to intervene.

“I want to caution the witnesses,” Issa said. “The scope of your testimony here is limited, and is not about proposed legislation and the like.”

Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat and Issa’s combative foil on the oversight panel, protested vociferously. “It’s only fair” for the ATF agents to speak their mind about whether gun laws should be strengthened, he said.

The shift in tactics by the Democrats came as they also appeared to concede the weight of the evidence Issa was presenting clearly undercut blanket denials initially issued by the Justice Department…

The article continues at The Daily Caller.

Related: Gun Walker Hearings: ATF Agents Feared Link To Giffords Shooting at Human Events

Via, this remark by Agent John Dodson is our quote of the day:

…Dodson, Casa, Alt and Forcelli say they were instructed to watch weapons purchased illegally en route to criminal networks but not seize the weapons as they had been trained. …

Dodson estimates 1,730 weapons escaped to the clutches of Mexican drug cartels throughout the lifespan of “Fast and Furious.” Many were later recovered at the scene of violent crimes.

“This guy comes in, buys 10, 15, 20 AKs or … a 22-year-old girl walks in and dumps $10,000 on … AK-47s in a day, when she is driving a beat up car that doesn’t have enough metal to hold hubcaps on it. They knew what was going on. The ‘may have facilitated’ to me is kind of erroneous. We did facilitate it. How are we not responsible for the ultimate outcome of these [g]uns?” Dodson said.

The agents said they complained vociferously about the operation to superiors. Eventually, a “schism” between team members developed over whether the tactics being used were wise or even legal…

(emphasis CAJ)

Update: Document drop: More Project Gunrunner fit hits the shan, at

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