CHICAGO — As the 26th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference unfolds here today — sponsored by the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms — people are talking about Operation Fast and Furious, while back in Seattle, they’re griping about the mayor’s plan to trim the police budget.
It might be hard for Chicago-area residents to even know about this weekend’s GRPC, as a scan of both the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune does not readily turn up any notice of the event. Odd, since the conference is being held here largely in observance of last year’s SAF victory over the city in McDonald v. City of Chicago, which allow the U.S. Supreme Court to incorporate the Second Amendment to the states through the 14th Amendment. It also brought an end to the city’s handgun ban, a bitter pill to swallow for a city operated by an anti-gun political machine as if it were a fiefdom on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Perhaps Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn would feel right at home here. He is intent on flexing his “imperial mayor” political muscle by curbing the police budget and not hiring any new cops. His argument:
McGinn said the SPD is exceeding public safety expectations in areas like 911 response time for the most urgent calls and said the number of officers assigned to patrol fuctions – 545 – is near the highest it has ever been. Going into 2012, McGinn’s budget would aim to keep a total force of 1,301, and the department would be allowed to hire to keep staffing at that level should it be needed.—SeattleP-I.com
McGinn’s constituents, weighing in on reader comment sections in both the Seattle Times and SeattlePI.com’s websites, disagree. In an emergency, there is no such thing as “too quick” a response time by police. On the other hand, with thousands of legally-armed citizens in and around the city — part of the record 345,000 people who hold concealed pistol licenses, as this column reported — maybe McGinn is hoping to see just how quickly his neighbors are on the trigger when the cops can’t make it in time.
Seattle seems like light years away from Chicago, where gun rights activists from across the map are gathered for the gun rights conference. High on the list of subjects: Operation Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ scandalous gun trafficking scheme now under congressional investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley and Congressman Darrell Issa.
Last night, this column joined National Gun Rights Examiner Dan and Sipsey Street’s Mike Vanderboegh, and a handful of others, in a discussion of the scandal: What we know, what we suspect, what can be proven, what must wait to be proven.
Down in Florida, however, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, was pulling no punches yesterday during a speech at the national Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.
“This is the biggest cover-up since Watergate and it’s time to ask the Watergate question. Who authorized Fast and Furious and how high up does it go?”—Wayne LaPierre
CBS News covered his speech, which was classic LaPierre. He echoed complaints often lodged by Grassley and Issa that their investigations are being deliberately stonewalled by the administration, specifically Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department. He alleged that Holder and his boss, Barack Obama — who travels Sunday to Seattle for campaign fundraisers, as this column noted — know more than they are telling, and are determined to keep it that way.
“They ran a massive campaign out the Department of Justice and the White House to manipulate public opinion and encouraged the media to slander the reputations of honest gun dealers—when they knew the truth all along.”—Wayne LaPierre
Last night’s conversation was just as candid. Codrea, Vanderboegh and this column agreed that there is still much about Fast and Furious that is speculation, but we also concur that the evidence so far points to a massive cover-up involving not just the ATF but also the FBI and higher-ups at Justice. The investigations have already started reaching into the White House.
There is much talk about the “third rifle” that was apparently recovered at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder last December, the incident that ignited the Fast and Furious investigations. Is that gun the murder weapon? Was it “disappeared” by the FBI to protect a paid confidential informant? Did that informant pull the trigger? Who knows for sure?
What is known is that the longer this investigation drags on, the worse is will get for Obama’s administration, for Holder and for underlings in Justice and the ATF, and maybe the FBI, who have been practicing the official bureaucratic stall for months.
As the conversation broke up last night, this column chatted briefly with Larry Pratt, Gun Owners of America. He’s disgusted by the cover-up, and — like others who have been following this unfolding scandal since January — compared it to Watergate and wonders why nobody remembers that that scandal brought down a presidency.
What’s that old saying about history repeating itself?
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