The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General and Congress are investigating, understandably. The probes could help to explain what went wrong and what could or should have been done differently. But Capitol Hill’s intense interest in the ATF should not stop there.So in the wake of an incredible scandal that shows exceedingly poor judgment and got a number of people killed, the Washington Post is arguing the ATF should be given more power? What? Shouldn't we be at least getting to the bottom of the current scandal before we decide whether that's wise?
Lawmakers should give the ATF the tools it needs to fight illegal gun trafficking. They should enact stronger penalties for straw purchases and craft a federal gun-smuggling statute; close the gun-show loophole, which allows buyers under certain circumstances to purchase weapons without a background check; resuscitate the ban on assault weapons; and give the ATF the authority to collect data on multiple sales of long guns in border states. The Senate should move quickly to confirm a director for the long-leaderless bureau.
We may never know whether the bureau would have launched the Fast and Furious operation had it had other, more effective tools at its disposal. Those who would clobber the bureau for possible mistakes should look in the mirror and accept some responsibility for its failings.