But the programs have had no shortage of critics. National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre has even suggested that Operation Fast and Furious was ultimately intended to foment violence in order to build support in the United States for more gun control. Some gun law experts say the program may have broken federal gun-trafficking laws.
"It's a crime to obstruct Congress, and of course it's a crime to participate in international gun smuggling," Dave Kopel, a gun control expert at the conservative Independence Institute in Golden, Colo., said recently on an Independence Institute webcast. "I don't know what part of federal law allows federal officials to commit the crime of international gun trafficking." He also said, "There's a growing possibility that … there's perjury."
One problem with Operation Fast and Furious was that effective mechanism for tracing guns were never instituted. In at least two cases, smugglers who had been stopped and searched were allowed to proceed with their shipments. More than 2,000 guns ultimately "walked," meaning US agents lost track of them, and many traveled across the border. As a result, the Mexican government, which was mostly out of the loop, has called for the extradition and prosecution of US officials who signed off on the program.