Note: Blood pressure warning. For those who may have missed it.
Mr. Goddard has been dubious at best on 2A issues, lifetime D to F
rating. ATF's bloody record has earned it's restrictions.
Goddard and Shurtleff: Congress painting ATF as the enemy
by Terry Goddard and Mark Shurtleff - Nov. 15, 2011 12:00 AM
Congress and the media have understandably focused on the missteps of
the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Operation
Fast and Furious. The operation allowed suspected straw buyers to
purchase weapons and take them to Mexico to build bigger cases
against drug cartels.
Fast and Furious ended after its possible connection to the tragic
death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Unfortunately, most of the
recent criticism about the operation seems to be about attacking
Attorney General Eric Holder and destroying the ATF rather than
holding those behind Fast and Furious accountable.
The focus should be on the real public-safety problem: keeping arms
from Mexican drug cartels and protecting U.S. security. But many of
the roadblocks faced by the ATF and Justice Department are not being
built by international criminals but by Congress.
We are two Southwestern law-enforcement officials, one Republican and
one Democrat, both gun owners who have faced border-related crimes
daily over the past decade. We believe Mexico is a critical U.S. ally
that must be freed from the clutches of transnational criminal
We have worked closely with the ATF and honor the professionalism and
dedication of its agents. We appreciate Attorney General Holder for
seeking more tools and resources for border law enforcement.
Border gun sales are exploding because it is illegal to privately
possess most firearms in Mexico. Organized criminals are using high-
powered, military-grade weapons that pose a serious threat to the
rule of law in Mexico.
These weapons have been used in the slaughter of 40,000 people during
the past five years. About 95 percent of weapons recovered from
murders in Mexico were traced back to the U.S. We warned that these
weapons would be used against officials in our country.
Right now, the ATF needs support to stop the straw buyers. U.S. state
attorneys general have been collaborating with Mexican state
attorneys general for years on border security and have been cross-
training law enforcement and prosecutors. We asked them to attack the
flood of drugs and people being smuggled into the U.S., and they have
pleaded with us to stem the flow of guns smuggled into Mexico.
The ATF has also been invaluable by providing evidence to state
authorities. For example:
Arizona incarcerated two people attempting to smuggle to Mexican
cartels powerful .50-caliber rifles that can threaten Mexican army
armored personnel carriers or helicopters.
An 11-month ATF investigation led state authorities to X-Caliber
Guns, a Phoenix store that provided nearly 1,000 guns seized at crime
scenes in Mexico.
Despite testimony from straw buyers on how they were coached by the
store owner to falsify gun forms, a judge ruled in favor of the
Congress adds to the problem by restricting the ATF on its
jurisdiction, forbidding the release of illegal gun-trafficking
statistics and failing to adequately fund the agency. But dedicated
ATF agents are soldiering on in the face of hostile fire.
We should stop disparaging these brave men and women on the front
lines during this time of stress and scrutiny. Division, doubt and
brinkmanship serve only to discourage our Mexican allies and embolden
our mutual enemies.
It would be tragic if the furor and blame over Fast and Furious
causes our country to abandon Mexico to the cartels. Let's keep our
sights firmly on the target and not on an issue manufactured for the
media. The cartels are our enemy, not the ATF or the Justice Department.
We need to provide the people fighting this critical battle the tools
to win it.
Mark Shurtleff is the Utah attorney general. Terry Goddard is a
former Arizona attorney general.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/