Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Operation Fast and Furious: Some Basic Observations

I haven’t seen anything written by people on the left about Operation Fast and Furious, the BATFE plan to implant tracking devices into military-grade weapons bought for and sold to drug cartels in Mexico. Instead, all I see is people on the right heaping piles of hostility on everyone they can imagine, from the BATFE to the DOJ to the Obama administration itself.

It’s strange, really. I never thought I would see the day that gun nuts would be chiding Obama for putting more guns into the hands of the people. I mean honestly, could you have predicted this scenario?

All I hear from these same people on the right is how guns reduce violence, how the world would be so safe if everyone just had guns. And yet, here’s a situation where more guns are put on the streets, and conservatives want to turn around and condemn liberals for putting them there.

Newsflash: if you want to blame anyone for military-grade weapons being in the hands of drug cartels, blame Republicans. It was their efforts which prevented the assault weapons ban from being renewed, allowing guns of this kind to be bought legally in the US. The “Fast and Furious” operation didn’t create this problem, it existed before Obama was even elected. Stories like this were not uncommon (that was the first Google result from searching “guns bought in US used in Mexico”), even before the 2009 BATFE decided to try to track this activity.

Was the operation botched? In my view it was, because the radio transmitters failed to allow the guns to be tracked from a distance, and can therefore only be identified when found by investigators. We’ll never know the full extent to how those weapons were used, because we’ll never know where they end up unless they are left at a crime scene or found during some sort of arrest or raid. In this respect, the operation was botched.

I’m not even that upset about the government putting guns in the hands of drug cartels. A little upset, but not a lot. Why? Well, for one thing, they would have gotten them anyway. It’s so easy to get guns like that in the US that I find it ridiculous to think, “if only this operation hadn’t happened, the people hurt by those guns would be okay.” On top of all that, I don’t exclusively blame guns for crime.

While this whole operation may have been about proving that we need stricter gun control in America (and I think we do), that wasn’t what I took away from the whole incident. No, what I got out of this was not a sense that guns need to be strictly regulated, so much as I came away thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe how much suffering is caused by the drug war.”

It is the drug war that is the root cause of all the death. It is the drug war (and those who continue to defend it) that bears responsibility for the killings that happen at an unprecedented rate in Mexico and along the border, not unregulated assault weapons or guns bought and sold by the BATFE.

Would there be less violence if guns were more strictly regulated in the US? Probably. Would there be less violence if Mexico did a better job protecting its border? Probably. However, the million-dollar question is, would any of this violence be occurring without the drug war? To that, I can confidently say, “No.”

1 comment:

  1. Dang, Bret. The closing 2 sentences are pretty much dead center bullseyes.


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