You are hereTalking Points Memo: Gun Dealer To Feds: ATF Sting May Let Guns Go To 'Bad Guys'

Talking Points Memo: Gun Dealer To Feds: ATF Sting May Let Guns Go To 'Bad Guys'

April 15, 2011- As early as April 2010, an Arizona gun dealer was expressing concern to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) about whether firearms sold from his store as part of a federal sting could end up in the wrong hands.

It was an eerie premonition from an unidentified gun dealer cooperating with ATF's "Project Gunrunner," an initiative aimed at stopping the flow of guns to Mexican cartels. Project Gunrunner has recently taken heat after a whistleblower told media outlets that ATF supervisors ordered agents not to intercept weapons made in suspicious sales but instead to monitor them to see where the weapons ended up. The agency reportedly allowed more than 1,700 guns be illegally trafficked to Mexico.

In an email sent on April 13, 2010, ATF supervisor David Roth tried to reassure the gun dealer that the guns were being carefully tracked.

"I understand that the frequency with which some individuals under investigation by our office have been purchasing firearms from your business has caused concerns for you. ... However, if it helps put you at ease we (ATF) are continually monitoring these suspects using a variety of investigative techniques which I cannot go into detail."

The gun dealer, unnamed in the emails, replied with a request for an official letter that would prevent the dealer from being held accountable if the guns did end up involved in criminal activity.

"For us, we were hoping to put together something like a letter of understanding to alleviate concerns of some type of recourse against us down the road for selling these items. We just want to make sure we are cooperating with ATF and that we are not viewed as selling to bad guys," the dealer wrote.

In response, Voth organized a meeting with the dealer and the assistant U.S. Attorney to "further discuss" the issue. But in June, the gun dealer wrote to Voth again with heightened anxiety after watching a Fox News report about firearms and the border.

"The segment, if the information was correct, is disturbing to me," the dealer wrote. "When you, [the Assistant U.S. Attorney], and I met on May 13th, I shared my concerns with you guys that I wanted to make sure that none of the firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF agents could or would ever end up south of the border or in the hands of the bad guys."



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