By Vikki Goodwin, El Paso, Texas
It’s the American dream: Immigrant from Australia with Special Forces military experience emigrates to the U.S. He loved our land from his home down under for all his adult life. He has a career as a police officer in Oakland California, then having found his soulmate, retires to the countryside in Chaparral, New Mexico. He raises goats and turkeys, leading a quiet life. As a hobby more than anything else, Ian Garland opened a gun store and obtained clearance by the federal government to sell semi-automatic or “sport tactical” weapons under a Federal Firearms License.
One day in late 2009 or early 2010 the Police Chief and mayor of Columbus New Mexico rolled up in a police cruiser, telling Ian that because of their location on the border and respective professions, they wished to purchase AK 47s in order to give their families maximum protection against the Mexican drug cartels. After the paperwork and background check were completed, lawful sales were made, with expressed agreement of the ATF. (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) Sounds more like it should be the name of convenience store, doesn’t it? After all, these can be good things when properly used, but I digress.
What Ian didn’t know was that he was being used as part of operation “Fast and Furious”, an ATF effort to allow automatic and semi-automatic weapons into Mexico in the hopes of apprehending the end users- drug cartels. (Ian’s FFL- Federal Firearms License-did not permit the sale of fully automatic weapons. Ian carried and sold the semi-automatic sport variety of AKs and pistols, which is what he sold the “straw purchasers”.) The practice is known as “gunwalking”. Mexican officials are outraged at this, especially since it was done without their knowledge or consent. Of course, they shouldn’t be surprised. There was no congressional oversight or accountability, either. Hmm…Let’s think about that. The ATF is so shady and underhanded, the MEXICAN cops think they are corrupt!
Many of the weapons purchsed from Mr. Garland as well as other legal dealers in Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma ended up in the hands of criminals, with the approval of the US government. Two were used in a murder. One of the victims was a US Border Patrol agent. One was found on a dead body after a shootout, and another was used in a kidnapping. So what do we make of this? Operation Fast and Furious can be considered a smashing success! The weapons ended up in the hands of the cartels, which was the objective of the ATF. Oh, what’s that you say? Did we actually apprehend the bad guys? Well, no. Not exactly. Other than the aforementioned “public servants” and a few other thugs, no, the weapons and their end users skip merrily along, wreaking havoc, endangering the lives of the people of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, as well as the entire US/Mexico border.
With one exception: Ian Garland, a loyal patriotic American who made legal sales based on false information provided to him, is under federal indictment on weapons charges. The mayor and police chief are charged with making false statements to Ian so that they could make the purchase. Please reread those last two sentences and let them sink in for just a minute. They are charged with lying to Ian so that they could buy the guns. So why is IAN in jail?
Ian has been in jail, held without bond, since March 10th on various charges related to this ATF scam. He will not have the opportunity to appear before a judge again until October. This defies logic. Even if you don’t know Ian and his wife Lori, even if he is just a name on paper to you, I ask, does this make sense? I have known Ian for many years. He loves this country more than anyone I know. He adopted the New England Patriots as his favorite football team; his email contains USA1776. He has proudly served our country as a police officer. He is known among his friends for the highest standards of integrity and honor. Contrast this with the ATF, who didn’t even have the stones to do their own work: they let the licensed gun store owners do it for them. The ATF could have made a much better case by enlisting the gun store owner’s help. Which begs the question: Why bust the sellers who are licensed not only to sell these weapons, but also obtained government clearance to make the sales? Well, I have a theory.
The ATF and FBI wish to thwart the will of the people and try to eliminate legal gun sales by making an example of these good citizens. The ATF and FBI, which is to say the federal government, just doesn’t want us to have weapons! Only one problem there: It’s legal! The people of New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, want and need these weapons to defend themselves against the Mexican drug cartels. You see, life here at the border is not the same as life “up there”. This is where the rubber meets the road. But even if you disagree with the law as it stands regarding the legality of automatic weapons sales, Don’t you have to abide by it and respect it? Shouldn’t the ATF?