Taking Down the Second Amendment: The Connection between Fast and Furious and the Trayvon Martin Case

Very soon after his inauguration, Barack Obama decided to move ahead with plans to use the horrific number of deaths in the Mexican drug wars as a pretext for new gun control laws.

On March 26, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder proposed a ban on "assault weapons" in order to reduce violence south of the border.

The administration made its case by citing a GAO report.  "The number of guns that are used by the drug cartels against the police and the military -- 90 percent of them come from America," Hillary Clinton declared later the same day.

The number was too good to be true.  The report actually states that of about 30,000 firearms seized from criminals in 2008, the Mexican government submitted only 7,200 (25%) to the ATF.  The authorities knew or suspected that the rest came from their own military or police, or overseas suppliers.  Of the 7,200 weapons, only about 4,000 could be traced, and of these 4,000 about 3,480 (87%) originated in the U.S.  The real figure for guns seized from criminals in Mexico that could be traced to the U.S. is thus about 11.6%.

There is no other reasonable explanation for Fast and Furious except to improve on this dismal number. 

In Phoenix, the ATF watched as over 2,000 weapons were purchased by straw buyers and transferred to the cartels.  They videotaped some of the transactions.  There was no way to track the weapons until they were found at crime scenes or seized in raids.  No GPSs were implanted in the guns.  The Mexican authorities were not informed.  Even the ATF attachés in Mexico were left in the dark.  Agents who wanted to carry out warrantless "rips" and confiscate weapons on probable cause were told to stand down.  Supervisors explained to the agents and to gun shop owners that the agency was going after the cartels: the little fish would lead the them to the big fish.  Worried gun shop owners were reassured by the ATF, but several agents were incredulous and outraged.  At least half a dozen protested and eventually came forward as whistle-blowers.

"The most transparent administration in history" immediately began stonewalling.  The DOJ sent a letter to Congress on February 4, 2011 categorically denying that the ATF had knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to suspicious buyers.  It was only in December 2011 that the DOJ withdrew the lying letter.

Meanwhile, the department repeatedly refused to turn over documents requested by the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform and Senator Chuck Grassley's office.  Memos they did submit were so heavily redacted that frequently only a single line was not blacked out.  One such memo, from the heady early months of the operation, was titled "Expected Legislative or Policy Developments."

The campaign to hide incriminating evidence climaxed last month.  On June 20, President Obama claimed executive privilege over the documents requested by the House. 

Eight days later, Eric Holder was cited for contempt of Congress.

Why was Holder willing to become the first sitting Cabinet officer in history to be held in contempt of Congress?  Why was the White House suddenly willing, at the 11th hour, to invoke executive privilege -- recalling the seamy Watergate scandal -- if the documents do not implicate Tricky Barack?  Even with a pussycat press, these are significant crosses to bear going into an election campaign.

Again, the only logical explanation is that the objective of F&F was the "expected legislative developments" and that this objective was discussed "at the highest levels of the White House," as reporters used to repeat during the halcyon days of Watergate.  If supervisors were "giddy" with delight when guns found at crime scenes in Mexico were traced to the operation, it was because that was the mission's goal. 

Had the collateral damage been confined only to a few hundred dead Mexicans and not a U.S. Border Patrol agent, it's not difficult to imagine the next step in the administration's war on guns.  

Chicago is like Mexico in some ways.  With 440 murders in 2011, the Second City has one of the highest crime rates of major cities in the U.S., more than double New York's. 

The murder rate is up 35% this year.  Nine people were killed one weekend last month.  "It's war," said a local pastor.  Most of the homicides, robberies, and assaults are linked to drug-trafficking by gangs.

Though its twenty-eight-year ban on handguns was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2010, Chicago still has one of the most restrictive gun laws in the country.

Do the Chicago numbers refute the idea that tight gun laws correlate with lower homicide rates?  Not at all, the Obama administration would have claimed.  After all, private ownership of guns is illegal in Mexico.

Had F&F succeeded, the Obamanistas would likely have made the case that the problem in Chicago is that guns were being "smuggled" into the city from jurisdictions with lax gun laws.  Mayor Rahm Emmanuel would have issued a report documenting the number of guns taken from gang members that could be traced to out-of-state and internet gun shops.  Only nationwide restrictions on the purchase of handguns will reduce murders in Chicago and in other large cities, we would have been told.

* * *

If you want to cut down on the consumption of a certain good or service, you can go after the producers or providers.  You can outlaw or restrict their businesses or raise their costs with taxes, fees, and onerous regulations.  

But you can also work on the consumers.  You can do this legitimately by, say, educating the public as to what an unborn baby looks like after three months, or what the lungs of a pack-a-day smoker look like after thirty years.  But you can do this as well by intimidation.

On February 26, 2012, a neighborhood watch captain was attacked by a thug.  Trayvon Martin had already been expelled three times in the school year.  In one case, twelve pieces of women's jewelry were found in his backpack.  His Twitter, MySpace, and YouTube accounts reveal him as a gangsta wannabe, into drugs (and possibly dealing) and screwing "bitches."  On the night February 26, "No-Limit Niggah" bought some Skittles and an Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail.  Mixed with codeine, they're the ingredients for a cocktail called "Lean" that he seems to have been fond of.  

He also apparently tried to buy some blunts -- cheap cigars to be hollowed out and filled with marijuana.  When the clerk turned him down, he had a scuzzy trio buy these for him.

He didn't mix the cocktail, but he probably smoked a blunt.  The autopsy found THC in his blood and urine.

Martin originally left the 7-Eleven at 6:24.  It's a fifteen-minute walk from his condo he was staying in, but forty-five minutes later, he was not back home.  There is no reason to doubt George Zimmerman's description of him as wandering around in the rain, looking "like he's up to no good" or "on drugs or something." 

After Martin spotted Zimmerman, the teenager had seven more minutes to walk 300 feet to the condo.  Instead, he circled back, told Zimmerman that Zimmerman now had a problem -- an understatement, it turned out -- then decked the watch captain with one punch and began pounding him into the concrete sidewalk.

The only eyewitness reported seeing Zimmerman being pummeled, his screams were recorded on several calls, and he had a broken nose and lacerations on the back of his head.

In Florida, you have a right to get out of your vehicle in the presence of an African-American teenager.  You have a right to ask a stranger what he's doing in your neighborhood.

George Zimmerman also felt he had a responsibility to do the former.  The watch captain had reported Martin to Sanford police and wanted to be able to tell them where the guy was.  There had been eight break-ins during the previous fourteen months at the Retreat at Twin Lakes, not to mention several unsuccessful attempts.  When the suspects were spotted or caught, they were young black males.

The last time Zimmerman had called 911 to report a stranger casing homes, the guy escaped before the cops arrived.

There is no need to reiterate the media's Pavlovian response to the claims of Ben Crump and his flak Ryan Julison.  Journalists and commentators who were capable of blaming the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords by a deranged, apolitical twenty-two-year old on Sarah Palin were more than willing to repeat ad nauseam the fairytale of the angelic twelve-year-old honor student going out in the rain to buy snacks for the son of his father's girlfriend only to be chased and gunned down in cold blood by a paranoid racist cop wannabe.

It's tempting to see the press's bloodlust to crucify Zimmerman as the consequence of a dangerous and irrational surrogate religion.  We would not expect fair and balanced reporting from a wild-eyed flagellant in 14th-century Europe or in 21st-century Iraq.  But is the lynching a result merely of a pernicious ideology?  Is there a method in the madness?  (And it is truly pathological to pretend that the internet doesn't exist, and that the evidence you ignore or suppress won't surface in the blogosphere.)  Is there, in other words, an agenda being pushed?

It's been speculated that President Obama wanted to shore up support in the African-American community via the Trayvon Martin imbroglio.  This seems implausible.  African-Americans account for less than 12% of the vote, and the man who could have been Trayvon's father received 95% of this demographic.  If he were really concerned about that number, he wouldn't have come out in favor of gay marriage.

A more reasonable explanation is that the administration and its enablers want to terrorize gun-owners with carrying permits into refraining from carrying, and to deter those thinking about getting a gun and a permit.

If you live in or near a big city, the reality is that if you have to use your gun to defend yourself, the chances are good that you'll be using it against a young African-American male.

According to Eric Holder's Justice Department, between 1976 and 2005, African-Americans, 12.6% of the population, committed 52.2% of all homicides.

Over the 30-year period, African-Americans committed murder at about 7.33 times the white rate.  (Whites here include Hispanics.)

The numbers for other violent crimes are comparable.   The perpetrators are overwhelmingly males between fifteen and twenty-five.

So the unspoken message of the media crusade against Zimmerman is that if you use a gun to defend yourself against a young black male, there's a chance you'll face a second-degree murder charge.  You may see your mugshot in every paper and on every TV news show in the country, face death threats, lose your job and your home, and be forced to become a fugitive before your arrest.

Why risk this?

Targeted also are neighborhood watch programs.  No program asks you to carry a gun or to make a citizen's arrest.  But to be effective, you need to be able to describe the suspect and his location to police, and the word has to get out that intruders will be watched.

After Zimmerman-Martin, potential volunteers may ask themselves, why risk a run-in with a suspicious African-American?  If the guy isn't breaking into my own home, just keep driving.  Pick up those groceries at Target and hope he's gone by the time you get back.

There's a famous statement attributed to Martin Niemöller, the German pastor imprisoned in Dachau.  "First they came for the communists," it begins, "and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist."  After mentioning his silence about trade unionists and Jews, it concludes, "Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me."

For some conservatives, gun-rights issues are not a high priority.  But one day they might find themselves reciting another version of Niemöller's mea culpa.

First they came after the owners of "assault weapons," and I didn't speak out because I didn't own a semi-automatic rifle.

Then they came for the owners of handguns, and I didn't speak out because I didn't own a handgun.

And then they came after my Swiss Army knife, but there was no one left to speak out for me.

Carrying a knife, or folding knife with a blade over three inches, is illegal in the U.K.

There's a more sobering version of Niemöller's litany.  It's not something a lot of people would have given much credence to before the presidency of the man who vowed "to fundamentally change America."

When they nullified the 10th Amendment, I said nothing because I was not a libertarian.

When they nullified the 2nd Amendment, I said nothing because I was not a gun-owner.

When they nullified the 1st Amendment, there was no one left to speak for me.

Unfortunately, the 1st Amendment, and our other rights, depend ultimately on the existence of the 2nd Amendment.

Holder has an interesting take on this amendment.  Asked on ABC News in 1999 if he understood it to mean that "citizens have a right to bear arms" and to "buy a firearm," Holder replied, "No court has ever said that the 2nd Amendment actually says that.  I think if you look at it, it talks about bearing guns in a well regulated militia.  And I don't think anywhere it talks about an individual" (Pavlich, 22).  The Founders, in other words, were using "people" as in "People's Republic of China," not as a synonym for "the population." 

Before Fast and Furious, the AG was notorious for engineering last-minute pardons for Marc Rich, on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List for the largest tax fraud in history, and for sixteen members of FALN, the Puerto Rican terrorist group that killed several people in bombings in Chicago and New York.

But a more revealing accomplishment was his role as point man in the kidnapping of Elian Gonzalez.  After applying for a court order to seize the boy from his legal guardian, Holder went ahead with the operation without one, then baldly denied that Elian was seized at gunpoint.  Holder was not fazed by the fact that millions of people throughout the world had seen Alan Diaz's disturbing photo.

Holder's 130-man INS militia brought enough assault weapons to have taken out Lazaro Gonzalez, Elian's uncle, and any other family members who had armed themselves.  But he might have hesitated.  It would have been tough to portray the Gonzalez family as nutcase Branch Dravidians.  At the very least, Holder might have been tempted to have waited for a court order.

And if the SWAT team had broken in with guns blazing and left with blood on its hands, the next time the feds faced armed opposition -- say, to the return of a fifteen-year-old runaway to her father so she could marry her cousin in Lahore -- they might have been even more wary.

* * *

The murder of Brian Terry has temporarily derailed the administration's plans to slowly, incrementally nationalize Chicago-style gun laws.  But there are other fronts in this war, and the vilification of George Zimmerman seems to be very much a part of the campaign to take firearms out of the hands of private citizens.  It's a clever strategy: no one has to mention the "g" word.

Very soon after his inauguration, Barack Obama decided to move ahead with plans to use the horrific number of deaths in the Mexican drug wars as a pretext for new gun control laws.

On March 26, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder proposed a ban on "assault weapons" in order to reduce violence south of the border.

The administration made its case by citing a GAO report.  "The number of guns that are used by the drug cartels against the police and the military -- 90 percent of them come from America," Hillary Clinton declared later the same day.

The number was too good to be true.  The report actually states that of about 30,000 firearms seized from criminals in 2008, the Mexican government submitted only 7,200 (25%) to the ATF.  The authorities knew or suspected that the rest came from their own military or police, or overseas suppliers.  Of the 7,200 weapons, only about 4,000 could be traced, and of these 4,000 about 3,480 (87%) originated in the U.S.  The real figure for guns seized from criminals in Mexico that could be traced to the U.S. is thus about 11.6%.

There is no other reasonable explanation for Fast and Furious except to improve on this dismal number. 

In Phoenix, the ATF watched as over 2,000 weapons were purchased by straw buyers and transferred to the cartels.  They videotaped some of the transactions.  There was no way to track the weapons until they were found at crime scenes or seized in raids.  No GPSs were implanted in the guns.  The Mexican authorities were not informed.  Even the ATF attachés in Mexico were left in the dark.  Agents who wanted to carry out warrantless "rips" and confiscate weapons on probable cause were told to stand down.  Supervisors explained to the agents and to gun shop owners that the agency was going after the cartels: the little fish would lead the them to the big fish.  Worried gun shop owners were reassured by the ATF, but several agents were incredulous and outraged.  At least half a dozen protested and eventually came forward as whistle-blowers.

"The most transparent administration in history" immediately began stonewalling.  The DOJ sent a letter to Congress on February 4, 2011 categorically denying that the ATF had knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to suspicious buyers.  It was only in December 2011 that the DOJ withdrew the lying letter.

Meanwhile, the department repeatedly refused to turn over documents requested by the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform and Senator Chuck Grassley's office.  Memos they did submit were so heavily redacted that frequently only a single line was not blacked out.  One such memo, from the heady early months of the operation, was titled "Expected Legislative or Policy Developments."

The campaign to hide incriminating evidence climaxed last month.  On June 20, President Obama claimed executive privilege over the documents requested by the House. 

Eight days later, Eric Holder was cited for contempt of Congress.

Why was Holder willing to become the first sitting Cabinet officer in history to be held in contempt of Congress?  Why was the White House suddenly willing, at the 11th hour, to invoke executive privilege -- recalling the seamy Watergate scandal -- if the documents do not implicate Tricky Barack?  Even with a pussycat press, these are significant crosses to bear going into an election campaign.

Again, the only logical explanation is that the objective of F&F was the "expected legislative developments" and that this objective was discussed "at the highest levels of the White House," as reporters used to repeat during the halcyon days of Watergate.  If supervisors were "giddy" with delight when guns found at crime scenes in Mexico were traced to the operation, it was because that was the mission's goal. 

Had the collateral damage been confined only to a few hundred dead Mexicans and not a U.S. Border Patrol agent, it's not difficult to imagine the next step in the administration's war on guns.  

Chicago is like Mexico in some ways.  With 440 murders in 2011, the Second City has one of the highest crime rates of major cities in the U.S., more than double New York's. 

The murder rate is up 35% this year.  Nine people were killed one weekend last month.  "It's war," said a local pastor.  Most of the homicides, robberies, and assaults are linked to drug-trafficking by gangs.

Though its twenty-eight-year ban on handguns was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2010, Chicago still has one of the most restrictive gun laws in the country.

Do the Chicago numbers refute the idea that tight gun laws correlate with lower homicide rates?  Not at all, the Obama administration would have claimed.  After all, private ownership of guns is illegal in Mexico.

Had F&F succeeded, the Obamanistas would likely have made the case that the problem in Chicago is that guns were being "smuggled" into the city from jurisdictions with lax gun laws.  Mayor Rahm Emmanuel would have issued a report documenting the number of guns taken from gang members that could be traced to out-of-state and internet gun shops.  Only nationwide restrictions on the purchase of handguns will reduce murders in Chicago and in other large cities, we would have been told.

* * *

If you want to cut down on the consumption of a certain good or service, you can go after the producers or providers.  You can outlaw or restrict their businesses or raise their costs with taxes, fees, and onerous regulations.  

But you can also work on the consumers.  You can do this legitimately by, say, educating the public as to what an unborn baby looks like after three months, or what the lungs of a pack-a-day smoker look like after thirty years.  But you can do this as well by intimidation.

On February 26, 2012, a neighborhood watch captain was attacked by a thug.  Trayvon Martin had already been expelled three times in the school year.  In one case, twelve pieces of women's jewelry were found in his backpack.  His Twitter, MySpace, and YouTube accounts reveal him as a gangsta wannabe, into drugs (and possibly dealing) and screwing "bitches."  On the night February 26, "No-Limit Niggah" bought some Skittles and an Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail.  Mixed with codeine, they're the ingredients for a cocktail called "Lean" that he seems to have been fond of.  

He also apparently tried to buy some blunts -- cheap cigars to be hollowed out and filled with marijuana.  When the clerk turned him down, he had a scuzzy trio buy these for him.

He didn't mix the cocktail, but he probably smoked a blunt.  The autopsy found THC in his blood and urine.

Martin originally left the 7-Eleven at 6:24.  It's a fifteen-minute walk from his condo he was staying in, but forty-five minutes later, he was not back home.  There is no reason to doubt George Zimmerman's description of him as wandering around in the rain, looking "like he's up to no good" or "on drugs or something." 

After Martin spotted Zimmerman, the teenager had seven more minutes to walk 300 feet to the condo.  Instead, he circled back, told Zimmerman that Zimmerman now had a problem -- an understatement, it turned out -- then decked the watch captain with one punch and began pounding him into the concrete sidewalk.

The only eyewitness reported seeing Zimmerman being pummeled, his screams were recorded on several calls, and he had a broken nose and lacerations on the back of his head.

In Florida, you have a right to get out of your vehicle in the presence of an African-American teenager.  You have a right to ask a stranger what he's doing in your neighborhood.

George Zimmerman also felt he had a responsibility to do the former.  The watch captain had reported Martin to Sanford police and wanted to be able to tell them where the guy was.  There had been eight break-ins during the previous fourteen months at the Retreat at Twin Lakes, not to mention several unsuccessful attempts.  When the suspects were spotted or caught, they were young black males.

The last time Zimmerman had called 911 to report a stranger casing homes, the guy escaped before the cops arrived.

There is no need to reiterate the media's Pavlovian response to the claims of Ben Crump and his flak Ryan Julison.  Journalists and commentators who were capable of blaming the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords by a deranged, apolitical twenty-two-year old on Sarah Palin were more than willing to repeat ad nauseam the fairytale of the angelic twelve-year-old honor student going out in the rain to buy snacks for the son of his father's girlfriend only to be chased and gunned down in cold blood by a paranoid racist cop wannabe.

It's tempting to see the press's bloodlust to crucify Zimmerman as the consequence of a dangerous and irrational surrogate religion.  We would not expect fair and balanced reporting from a wild-eyed flagellant in 14th-century Europe or in 21st-century Iraq.  But is the lynching a result merely of a pernicious ideology?  Is there a method in the madness?  (And it is truly pathological to pretend that the internet doesn't exist, and that the evidence you ignore or suppress won't surface in the blogosphere.)  Is there, in other words, an agenda being pushed?

It's been speculated that President Obama wanted to shore up support in the African-American community via the Trayvon Martin imbroglio.  This seems implausible.  African-Americans account for less than 12% of the vote, and the man who could have been Trayvon's father received 95% of this demographic.  If he were really concerned about that number, he wouldn't have come out in favor of gay marriage.

A more reasonable explanation is that the administration and its enablers want to terrorize gun-owners with carrying permits into refraining from carrying, and to deter those thinking about getting a gun and a permit.

If you live in or near a big city, the reality is that if you have to use your gun to defend yourself, the chances are good that you'll be using it against a young African-American male.

According to Eric Holder's Justice Department, between 1976 and 2005, African-Americans, 12.6% of the population, committed 52.2% of all homicides.

Over the 30-year period, African-Americans committed murder at about 7.33 times the white rate.  (Whites here include Hispanics.)

The numbers for other violent crimes are comparable.   The perpetrators are overwhelmingly males between fifteen and twenty-five.

So the unspoken message of the media crusade against Zimmerman is that if you use a gun to defend yourself against a young black male, there's a chance you'll face a second-degree murder charge.  You may see your mugshot in every paper and on every TV news show in the country, face death threats, lose your job and your home, and be forced to become a fugitive before your arrest.

Why risk this?

Targeted also are neighborhood watch programs.  No program asks you to carry a gun or to make a citizen's arrest.  But to be effective, you need to be able to describe the suspect and his location to police, and the word has to get out that intruders will be watched.

After Zimmerman-Martin, potential volunteers may ask themselves, why risk a run-in with a suspicious African-American?  If the guy isn't breaking into my own home, just keep driving.  Pick up those groceries at Target and hope he's gone by the time you get back.

There's a famous statement attributed to Martin Niemöller, the German pastor imprisoned in Dachau.  "First they came for the communists," it begins, "and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist."  After mentioning his silence about trade unionists and Jews, it concludes, "Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me."

For some conservatives, gun-rights issues are not a high priority.  But one day they might find themselves reciting another version of Niemöller's mea culpa.

First they came after the owners of "assault weapons," and I didn't speak out because I didn't own a semi-automatic rifle.

Then they came for the owners of handguns, and I didn't speak out because I didn't own a handgun.

And then they came after my Swiss Army knife, but there was no one left to speak out for me.

Carrying a knife, or folding knife with a blade over three inches, is illegal in the U.K.

There's a more sobering version of Niemöller's litany.  It's not something a lot of people would have given much credence to before the presidency of the man who vowed "to fundamentally change America."

When they nullified the 10th Amendment, I said nothing because I was not a libertarian.

When they nullified the 2nd Amendment, I said nothing because I was not a gun-owner.

When they nullified the 1st Amendment, there was no one left to speak for me.

Unfortunately, the 1st Amendment, and our other rights, depend ultimately on the existence of the 2nd Amendment.

Holder has an interesting take on this amendment.  Asked on ABC News in 1999 if he understood it to mean that "citizens have a right to bear arms" and to "buy a firearm," Holder replied, "No court has ever said that the 2nd Amendment actually says that.  I think if you look at it, it talks about bearing guns in a well regulated militia.  And I don't think anywhere it talks about an individual" (Pavlich, 22).  The Founders, in other words, were using "people" as in "People's Republic of China," not as a synonym for "the population." 

Before Fast and Furious, the AG was notorious for engineering last-minute pardons for Marc Rich, on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List for the largest tax fraud in history, and for sixteen members of FALN, the Puerto Rican terrorist group that killed several people in bombings in Chicago and New York.

But a more revealing accomplishment was his role as point man in the kidnapping of Elian Gonzalez.  After applying for a court order to seize the boy from his legal guardian, Holder went ahead with the operation without one, then baldly denied that Elian was seized at gunpoint.  Holder was not fazed by the fact that millions of people throughout the world had seen Alan Diaz's disturbing photo.

Holder's 130-man INS militia brought enough assault weapons to have taken out Lazaro Gonzalez, Elian's uncle, and any other family members who had armed themselves.  But he might have hesitated.  It would have been tough to portray the Gonzalez family as nutcase Branch Dravidians.  At the very least, Holder might have been tempted to have waited for a court order.

And if the SWAT team had broken in with guns blazing and left with blood on its hands, the next time the feds faced armed opposition -- say, to the return of a fifteen-year-old runaway to her father so she could marry her cousin in Lahore -- they might have been even more wary.

* * *

The murder of Brian Terry has temporarily derailed the administration's plans to slowly, incrementally nationalize Chicago-style gun laws.  But there are other fronts in this war, and the vilification of George Zimmerman seems to be very much a part of the campaign to take firearms out of the hands of private citizens.  It's a clever strategy: no one has to mention the "g" word.