Agents worried ATF program connected with Loughner gun

Federal agents were worried that the gun used to shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in the head could have been part of the controversial “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation. They learned eventually that it had not, sources said.

The “Fast and Furious” operation was a program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that authorized and monitored the sale of weapons to known and suspected straw purchasers for Mexican drug cartels with the stated goal of exposing and dismantling gun trafficking routes.


House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) held a hearing on the mired program on Wednesday, during which ATF agents testified that they had been ordered to let guns “walk” into the hands of suspected and known criminals with little hope of ever seeing them again or being able to successfully track them to their final owners.

When news of Giffords shooting broke in January, Peter Forcelli, the group supervisor with ATF’s Phoenix field division, said that agents were anxious that the gun allegedly used by Jared Loughner may have been obtained under the guidance of the “Fast and Furious” operation. 

“I received a phone call from my public information officer, who is a friend of mine, who said that there was concern from the chain of command that the gun was hopefully not a ‘Fast and Furious’ gun,” Forcelli said.

The gun allegedly used by Loughner was not purchased under the guidance of the program, according to law enforcement sources.