Tactics: Are There Not Enough Gun Criminals?
A lot of
gun rights activists have developed a rather jaundiced view of the mainstream
news media, and I confess that I often share that cynicism.You can therefore imagine my surprise at this
astonishing investigative report in the December
7, 2013 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about BATF’s techniques for taking bad guys with guns off the
street.I will not say that I am pleased to read it, because it reveals
some really troubling behavior by federal law enforcement, but at least it
shows some serious journalistic efforts to bring accountability to an agency
that has a really bad history.
surprisingly, Wright was soon bringing guns to the undercover operation, many
of them purchased from gun stores, transferred to Wright, who then sold them to
BATF.Why?Because BATF was paying twice the retail
price for the guns.Wright, who had a felony
conviction in 2007, was therefore a felon in possession of a firearm (even if
only for the purpose of selling them to BATF) – and BATF prosecuted him for
that reason. Not surprisingly, when it went to trial, Wright received probation
because of his mental incapacity.
In a number
of places, like Milwaukee, “agents offered sky-high prices for guns, leading
suspects to buy firearms at stores and turn around and sell them to undercover
agents for a quick profit.”(And of
course, for subsequent arrest.)Running
fake pawnshops in some cities, their “no questions asked” policy of buying
electronics and bikes are described as “spurring burglaries and theft.”In Atlanta, this included guns stolen from police cars just hours before the
thieves showed up to sell them.(BATF:
making a crime wave wherever they went.)
actually cross the line into entrapment?I am sure that they were usually
careful not to actually suggest that their “customers” go break the law – but
not always. In some cases, it appears that they did cross the line: in Wichita, “agents suggested that a felon take
a shotgun, saw it off and bring it back – and provided instructions on how to
do it.”Of course, that turned a simple
felon in possession charge into many more charges: possession of an
unregistered National Firearm Act weapon, unlawful manufacture, and probably a
few more charges that I cannot immediately dream up.
All of this
leads me to ask: did BATF have that hard a time finding felons already in possession that they had to
go to such elaborate steps to get someone to arrest?Did they really need to take advantage of
mentally retarded people, not once, but in several different cities?Did they really need to provide alcohol in
underage youths, and damage buildings that they rented (then stiffed the
landlords for the repairs)?I do not
doubt that BATF’s work removes guns from criminal hands in many cases, but
reading the above makes me wonder if they are reducing crime as much as they
are causing it.And of course, there is
the slight embarrassment that BATF in Milwaukee lost a machine gun.
There is a
legitimate function that BATF performs.But they sure do not seem to be covering themselves in glory or honor
with tactics like these.