The Government Again Shows
Why We Need Gun Control

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot and killed on Dec. 14, 2010. The gunfight broke out near Rio Rico, Ariz., as Terry and his group patrolled the area for bandits, who often prey upon those crossing the border. Four assailants were arrested.

The Los Angeles Times article described the scene:

One of the alleged bandits, Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, a 33-year-old Mexican from Sinaloa, was wounded in the abdomen and legs. Agent Brian Terry — 40, single, a former Marine — also went down. “I’m hit!” he cried.

A fellow agent cradled his friend. “I can’t feel my legs,” Terry said. “I think I’m paralyzed.” A bullet had pierced his aorta. Tall and nearly 240 pounds, Terry was too heavy to carry. They radioed for a helicopter. But Terry was bleeding badly, and he died in his colleague’s arms.

The bandits dropped two AK-47 assault rifles at the scene and fled, leaving Osorio-Arellanes behind.

The investigation into Terry’s death led to disturbing finds, to say the least. From the beginning, federal authorities had a strange delay in answering simple questions about the murder, particularly regarding where the bandits would have obtained assault rifles. It was later released that the guns found at the scene were illegally purchased at the Lone Wolf Trading Company in Glendale, Ariz.

Nearly two months passed, however, before the full story began to come out. Andre Howard, owner of the Lone Wolf Trading Company, was told to sell guns illegally by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The Los Angeles Times reported, in a Sept. 11, 2011, article:

In the fall of 2009, ATF agents installed a secret phone line and hidden cameras in a ceiling panel and wall at Andre Howard’s Lone Wolf gun store. They gave him one basic instruction: Sell guns to every illegal purchaser who walks through the door.

For 15 months, Howard did as he was told. To customers with phony IDs or wads of cash he normally would have turned away, he sold pistols, rifles, and semiautomatics. He was assured by the ATF that they would follow the guns, and that the surveillance would lead the agents to the violent Mexican drug cartels on the Southwest border.

When Howard heard nothing about any arrests, he questioned the agents. Keep selling, they told him. So hundreds of thousands of dollars more in weapons, including .50-caliber sniper rifles, walked out of the front door of his store in a Glendale, Ariz., strip mall.

In early February 2011, it was revealed that the guns used to kill Brian Terry were purchased from the Lone Wolf Trading Company by Jaime Avila on Jan. 16, 2010, nearly one full year before the gunfight near Rio Rico. Brian Terry was killed by guns intentionally and illegally sold to criminals, under a plan of the American government.

Emails within the ATF show that they were immediately aware that the guns used in Terry’s murder were part of their operation. At 7:45 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2010 (the day after Brian Terry was killed), an email between ATF agents described the guns, gave their serial numbers, and even confirmed that traces on the guns affirmatively linked them to the crime.

Overall, some 2,000 weapons were sold illegally in the Arizona area under the ATF operation known as “Fast and Furious,” most to “straw buyers” who then resold them to criminal gunrunners. But the agency’s plan to track those weapons to those final buyers could not have failed more miserably. The U.S. Department of Justice has demonstrated its incompetence in investigating this deadly debacle as well, reluctantly admitting that at least one more “Fast and Furious firearm turned up at a violent crime scene in this country. They have yet to provide any more details.”

That’s not all. It was also revealed that “another 28 Fast and Furious weapons were recovered at violent crimes in Mexico. They have not identified those cases either. The Mexican government maintains that an undisclosed number of Fast and Furious weapons have been found at some 170 crime scenes in their country.”

So at least 200 of the weapons sold in Fast and Furious have been used in violent crimes throughout the U.S. and Mexico. What was Attorney General Eric Holder’s response? Surely Holder and the ATF will take responsibility for what they have done, right? The evidence is so clear. The serial numbers of the guns match those sold as part of Fast and Furious. The guns were found at the scene, along with one of the bandits. Well, not exactly. Holder said,

I would like to correct some of the inaccurate — and irresponsible — accusations surrounding Fast and Furious. Some of the overheated rhetoric might lead you to believe that this local, Arizona-based operation was somehow the cause of the epidemic of gun violence in Mexico. In fact, Fast and Furious was a flawed response to, not the cause of, the flow of illegal guns from the United States into Mexico.

In other words, it’s not his fault. Holder’s argument seems to be that the United States. needs more gun control laws. You know, to prevent guns from being illegally sold and winding up the hands of criminals who might harm American citizens. Hmm.

Holder then went on to blame the House of Representatives.

Unfortunately, earlier this year the House of Representatives actually voted to keep law enforcement in the dark when individuals purchase multiple semi-automatic rifles and shotguns in Southwest border gun shops. Providing law enforcement with the tools to detect and disrupt illegal gun trafficking is entirely consistent with the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens, and it is critical to addressing the public safety crisis on the Southwest border.

Wait. Isn’t the attorney general the head of the Department of Justice? And isn’t the ATF a branch of the Department of Justice? And did not the ATF authorize Arizona gun shops to sell firearms illegally, promising to track them back to the “big fish” gun traffickers? Yes, on all counts.

In September, previously unreleased audio files revealed conversations between an ATF agent and Andre Howard in which they both express disgust over the congressmen who were daring to push the investigation into Fast and Furious. Holder called the congressional hearings on the matter “headline-grabbing Washington ‘gotcha’ games and cynical political point-scoring.” Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) were the primary targets.

Earlier in the investigation, it was revealed that the ATF agent who blew the whistle over Fast and Furious was fired. Vince Cefalu, a 24-year veteran with the ATF, was terminated after going public with the operation.

But the latest twist in this story was revealed just last week, with very little fanfare or coverage by the mainstream media. The Arizona Daily Star reported:

The case against the alleged killers of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry has disappeared from federal court records, apparently sealed by a federal judge.

In May, federal prosecutors won an indictment against Manuel Osorio-Arellanes and others, and they announced it with a press release. Only Osorio-Arellanes’ name was visible in the indictment, but there were blacked-out words where other defendants’ names go.

Osorio-Arellanes was charged with second-degree murder and was not considered the likely shooter. He had been wounded during the gunfight that left Terry dead.

But in the ensuing months, the case disappeared from court records.

Why? Nobody is saying.

Meanwhile, calls for Holder’s resignation or firing have steadily multiplied in Congress, and every new violent gun crime brings fresh worries that Fast and Furious guns are involved.

The temptation to turn this into another 2nd Amendment debate has caused many to miss the truly important point. This tragic display of incompetence and disregard for the lives and safety of citizens is yet another reminder that what America really needs is more control over the guns of our government.

Author: Dr. Brian Phillips

Dr. Brian Phillips is a history, philosophy, and rhetoric teacher and serves as the pastor of Holy Trinity Reformed Church in Concord, N.C. You can read more of his writings at Truth and Culture and may e-mail him at