Darrell Issa’s Fast and Frivolous
Almost everyone is now critical of the bait-gun programs conducted to stop smuggling of US guns to Mexico. The most well-known of these is Fast and Furious, an unfortunate and self-important name of the kind favored by “the Feds.”
But is the idea of using bait guns a good one or a bad one? And is using bait to catch criminals unusual? No matter what you think about the rightness of the tactic, using various kinds of bait in organized crime, drug, and conspiracy investigations is a common — and proven — method. Use of bait guns is more unusual than using money or drugs as bait, but it is hardly unheard of.
Bait is an important part of the investigator’s toolbox
Bait guns are primarily sold by informants as a way of making a straw-purchase case (where someone buys guns intending the transfer them to someone who can’t legally own them.)
The fact that about 2,000 bait guns were part of Fast and Furious and about 300 were lost (more hyperbolically described as “gun-walking”) is not particularly competent but also not particularly notable either. Generally, when bait is lost, all of it is gone. Three hundred represents 15% of the bait guns from this investigation.
When criminal bait is lost, some guns end up in gun crimes; some money is used to fund fraud; and some drugs winds up overdosing junkies. Still most of it serves the important function of catching bad guys. Lost bait doesn’t cause these bad things to happen. It simply supplants the other ready supply.
Smuggling US guns to Mexico is widespread
Without Fast and Furious, Mexican drug cartels would not be unarmed. Not hardly. According to the 2010 report by the US group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, 75% of the guns used in crimes in Mexico were originally purchased in the United States. They also cited an ATF statistic: 19,000 guns bought at US dealers were directly tied to crimes in Mexico. Forty percent of these were bought in Texas alone, where it is dead easy to buy guns for “export.”Continued on the next page