Too Fast, Too Furious?

October 21, 2011

Beginning in fall 2009, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives initiated Operation Fast and Furious. The purpose of the operation was to knowingly allow illegal sale of arms to Mexican drug cartels in order to strengthen future cases against those organizations. However, in December 2010, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent was shot dead with a weapon that found its way into criminal hands because of the ATF's operation. As a result, the operation was halted and has remained inactive--but the problems arising from it continue to haunt us.
During the operation, around 2,000 guns were allowed to be trafficked into Mexico - but only 600 have thus far been recovered. And the patrol agent's death in December 2010 was not the only casualty: In February 2011, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was shot to death with what some reports say was a gun obtained as a result of Operation Fast and Furious. Other weapons obtained through the program were used in an assault on a Mexican military helicopter and the kidnapping of Mario Gonzalez Rodriguez, a high-profile attorney. The U.S. Department of Justice has already identified at least 21 firearms that there were associated with Operation Fast and Furious and reportedly used to commit violent crimes. Today, the program, along with those responsible for it, is being investigated by committees in both the House and the Senate.

In the Bible, we are exhorted to "beat...swords into plowshares, and...spears into pruning hooks" (Isaiah 2:4) - in other words, to do away with tools of destruction and use them instead for more constructive purposes. Although it is undoubtedly a good thing for our government to pursue criminal organizations, it is troubling to think of government agencies as involved in facilitating the distribution of deadly weapons to those who are likely to use them to perpetuate violence and social instability.

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press and USA Today.

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