Rep. Lankford: Lawmakers Exploiting Failed Gunrunner Operation to Limit 2nd Amendment

By Adam Sylvain | July 27, 2011 | 1:55 PM EDT

Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

( – As Congress continues to investigate the failed gunrunning operation “Fast and Furious,” which funneled thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels that used them to commit crimes, Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said that some lawmakers are using information from that program to start restricting Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

At a Bloggers Briefing at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, asked Lankford, “Regarding Fast and Furious, have you heard Sen. Grassley’s (R-Iowa) comments that he thought this was possibly an effort by the administration to set up a case for restricting Second Amendment rights? And have you seen anything to that effect? And, also, what was the most compelling news that came out of today’s hearing?”

Lankford said, “Was it intentional? I’m going to take them [Justice Department] at their word at this point, to say they really did want to break up a [weapons] ring -- just their plan seemed to be completely inept to actually accomplish that. And I say that carefully because I look at their plan and think, ‘That plan would never work.’ And I’m not in law enforcement, and I can look at that – you should no better, that that plan would actually work.”

“So, if I take them at their word that that wasn’t their intent, okay, great,” said Lankford, adding, “How it’s being used now is absolutely to try to start limiting the Second Amendment.”

“That has already started from people that are not pro-Second Amendment to say, ‘How can we limit the sales of long guns? How can we do more registration? How can we prohibit certain types of guns?’” said the congressman.  “There were already questions that came in today’s hearing, ‘Tell me the exact type of guns that the drug kingpins like and is there some way we can limit the access to them?’  I know exactly where they’re going.”

“Operation Fast and Furious” began when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which operates under the Department of Justice (DOJ),  knowingly allowed at least 2,000 guns to be purchased in the United States and funneled to Mexican criminals, in an apparent effort to track them to the most powerful drug rings.

The ATF lost track of many of the weapons and two of the guns, first purchased in the United States under the program, were later found in Arizona at the scene where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was murdered.

U.S. Border Agent Brian A. Terry, shot and killed on Dec. 14, 2010, near Rio Rico, Arizona, while trying to catch bandits who target illegal immigrants.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is leading the Senate’s investigation into Operation Fast and Furious. In a recent interview with he said he does not know definitively if there was a political motivation for launching the operation, but he suspects there was.

“My suspicion is they [Obama administration]  don’t like the Second Amendment the way it is, and they are going to do everything to hurt guns and restrict guns,” Grassley told  “So they could have been building a case for that. But I can’t prove that.”

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is leading the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious through the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee. Another round of hearings occurred on Tuesday, which Rep. Lankford attended.

At the bloggers event, Lankford related that, at those hearings, questions were being raised about how to control access to certain types of guns preferred by leaders of drug rings.

“If drug king pins like AK-47’s, then let’s not allow them to be sold anywhere,” said Lankford, in reference to comments by lawmakers who want to restrict the Second Amendment.  “It would be something akin to saying most speeding tickets are given to red Mustangs and so we should not allow red Mustangs to be sold any more because that’s where the speeding violations come from. So it’s that kind of mindset that is rolling through with that.”

Lankford went on to say he thinks responsibility for the matter will ultimately fall on the Obama administration.

Attorney General Eric Holder. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

“There’s no way they couldn’t have known this,” said Lankford in reference to the senior personnel responsible for overseeing the ATF and its operations. “The facts just scream – even the Democrats -- in the hearing before were somewhat protecting the administration -- [are] now saying, ‘Who knew? When did they know? How did this get approved?’ Everything about this smells really bad.”

“I mean, it’s going to end up on the administration’s desk,” he said.  “Somebody at DOJ had to sign off. There’s too much money involved in the process of these weapons getting out there and there’s too much clandestine operations that have to be tracked -- all those things have to be approved up the food chain. So it went through the food chain and it went up very close to the top, the top of DOJ. Someone was tracking this.”

“This thing, the more it unfolds, the worse it smells,” he said.