This morning Fox & Friends hosted former Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) to discuss the failed ATF Fast and Furious program, which Tiahrt stated was part of a "conspiracy" to "eliminate the sales of firearms in America."
After Fox & Friends began with a categorically false explanation of what Tiahrt's gun trace amendment does, Tiahrt advanced the baseless claim that Fast and Furious and efforts to change the Tiahrt amendment were part of a "conspiracy" to ban guns.
Co-host Molly Line teased the segment with a flagrantly inaccurate description of the Tiahrt amendment:
LINE: Hundreds of American guns sold to Mexican drug cartels, but law enforcement is only allowed to know about it because of a small budget amendment. The amendment's original sponsor is here next to talk about that.
The Tiahrt amendment does the opposite of what Fox and Friends is suggesting, it suppresses gun trace data. As Tiahrt originally wrote it, the legislation suppressed data sharing even among law enforcement agencies. Tiahrt's data sharing prohibition currently bars House Oversight Committee members from getting gun trace data from the ATF.
A letter from Mayors Against Illegal Guns about the Tiahrt amendment and the Fast and Furious investigation explains the actual effect of the amendment in this case:
This [crime gun trace] data is indeed important to understanding which Mexican crime guns were traced back to dealers in the United State who were cooperating with Fast & Furious. It is also a fact that ATF itself maintains eTrace and has immediate access to all of the data Chairman Issa and Senator Grassley have requested from the Mexican government and Arizona law enforcement, including the serial numbers of guns recovered in violent crimes and submitted for tracing as well as the results of each trace.
Unfortunately, as Senator Grassley pointed out in a June 16th letter addressed to ATF Deputy Director Kenneth Melson, the Tiahrt Amendments prohibit ATF from releasing trace data, even to members of Congress who are conducting oversight of ATF. Thus, Chairman Issa and Senator Grassley find it necessary to request it from the Mexican government and Arizona law enforcement officials
Asked about what "bothers you most" Tiahrt said:
TIAHRT: Well, what bothers me most is that about the same time they started Fast and Furious to allow those guns to walk across the border illegally, they also asked for changes to the Tiahrt trace data amendment to allow to transfer this information to foreign police entities so I think there was some type of a conspiracy going on where they were trying to do certain things to obtain data that says it's too violent to sell firearms in America and we need to change the law and constitution.
While the gun lobby and conservative media continue to push this conspiracy, no evidence exists that Fast and Furious was initiated to fail and promote gun control.
Asked for his response to a statement from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) about the need for Congressional oversight to be able to access ATF crime gun trace data, Tiahrt doubled down on his bizarre conspiracy claim:
TIAHRT: Privacy is very important, especially those that are undercover officers and every firearms owner in America. This, the Tiahrt amendment, protects those that protect us. And it shouldn't be put out in the open public like he is advocating. What he is reciting is what gun control groups are trying to do and that's get this data out there so they can eliminate the sales of firearms in America.
KILMEADE: And finally, when you look at this entire operation, how you intimately know how Congress works, do you think the ATF could be doing this on their own without the Justice Department's go ahead and push?
TIAHRT: No, I think this was an approval from the Department of Justice, they knew at the highest levels inside the agency not only the ATF but the Department of Justice that this program was going on and that they wanted changes to the Tiahrt trace data amendment in order to work in concert with it to try to change the laws of this land.
To be clear, what the Tiahrt amendment does is block the ATF from sharing information about where a gun used to commit a crime comes from. This prohibition is currently blocking members of Congress investigating the ATF's failed Fast and Furious program from getting that information from the ATF.
But, in the fever swamps of Fox & Friends and former congressman Tiahrt's imagination efforts to allow members of Congress to access crime gun trace data the federal government has collected is part of a conspiratorial campaign aimed at the elimination of the sale of firearms in America.