The National Rifle Association has launched a national TV and Internet ad campaign calling for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s firing in the wake of a controversial gun walking operation.
With liberals using the botched Fast and Furious program to call for stricter gun regulation, the NRA is spearheading an effort to beat back their efforts. The ad calling on Holder to resign can be seen in that context.
The ad says Holder committed perjury when he gave testimony last May about Operation Fast and Furious that Republicans say misled Congress. The ad charges that Holder knew about the controversial gun running tactic long before he notified Congress. The operation, headed up by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), allegedly resulted in the sale of at least 2,000 firearms to drug cartel members in Arizona through straw buyers.
Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney in Arizona, resigned over the matter and ATF’s top official was reassigned to a new post.
The NRA ad blasts Holder, telling viewers to “Tell Obama to Hold Holder Accountable.” The organization has also started a petition calling for Holder’s firing.
Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of NRA, said in a statement that Holder has been “one of the chief architects of Obama’s gun ban agenda.”
“The ugly truth of this conspiracy is the hardest of all to swallow, because it was all a frame-up against gun owners and the Second Amendment,” the statement reads. “[Holder] can’t be trusted with the powers of Attorney General, the law enforcement agencies he commands, the sanctity of the Second Amendment, or the lives of Federal agents.”
David Kopel, the research director for the free market think tank Independence Institute and associate policy analyst at the Cato Institute, said the NRA has argued for enforcing existing gun laws, rather than imposing new restrictions on gun owners.
“It’s probably really galling to see an administration that actually encouraged law breaking in order to put guns in the hands of violent criminals then turn around and impose new gun control laws,” Kopel said.
A new federal law enacted in July allows ATF to monitor the sale of two or more semiautomatic rifles within one week in border states. Officials said the new regulations were put in place to crack down on illegal gun-trafficking over the border, but second amendment advocates are suspicious that it may be a prelude to more gun control legislation.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a committee meeting last week that Fast and Furious may signal the need for a national gun registration program. Feinstein was an original sponsor of the 1994 assault weapons ban that was strongly opposed by the NRA. The ban expired in 2004 through a sun-setting provision.
Kopel, echoing the hopes of many conservatives, said he also thinks Holder will be sun-setted. “I don’t think on Jan. 30, 2013, he will be attorney general, regardless of who wins the election,” he said.
In the controversial operation, ATF hoped to trace the guns to the cartel members, but the bureau reportedly lost track of many of them. Then in December, two guns from the operation were recovered from a shootout between border patrol agents and Mexican bandits near Rio Rico, Ariz., which ended in the death of border patrol agent Brian A. Terry.
In May, Holder testified he had heard about the operation a few weeks prior, but then at a Judiciary Committee meeting this week, he said that may have been incorrect and it may have actually been a few months. In the hearing, Holder said the department was misled by ATF officials, but acted swiftly as soon as the operation came to light, ordering an Inspector General investigation and issuing a directive to all employees saying the tactic was unacceptable. The tactic was first used in Operation Wide Receiver under the George W. Bush administration.
LaPierre said in his statement that the administration has endangered Americans’ second amendment liberties with Operation Fast and Furious.
“They’ve used a government law-enforcement agency to advance their gun-ban agenda,” he said. “They’ve forced law-abiding gun dealers to commit crimes. These schemes endangered untold numbers of innocents and a U.S. Border Patrol Agent is dead.”