For 30 years, Chicago banned handguns. The crime rate skyrocketed. Murders soared. Gangs blossomed. Desperate city officials even considered calling the National Guard to combat the out-of-control violence that all the "community organizing" in the world couldn't curb. The Supreme Court struck down Chicago's individual firearms ownership prohibition last year, but the same anti-gun zealots who put Windy City citizens' lives at risk remain in power.
And now one of them may soon be in charge of the scandal-plagued Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Meet Andrew Traver. He's President Obama's nominee to head ATF. The Senate Judiciary Committee refused to act on the original nomination last fall. His name was sent up again earlier this year, and a hearing has yet to be scheduled. Obama's czar-happy habits should be a red flag on a possible recess appointment.
Traver has spent two decades in the Chicago ATF office bureaucracy. The White House touts his record as a Navy vet and crime-fighter. But it's his anti-gun advocacy that won him Chicago crony backing in the Beltway. Liberal Republican Sen. Mark Kirk and rabid leftist Sen. Dick Durbin both support their home state bureaucrat. Grassroots Second Amendment groups across the country (not to mention rank-and-file ATF agents) have raised their voices in opposition.
Traver allied with the progressive Joyce Foundation to lobby for tighter federal restrictions of Second Amendment freedoms. He supports curtailing access to ATF databases and opposes privacy protections for gun-owners. He has also compared automatic black-market weapons to legal semi-automatic assault weapons.
As the National Rifle Association points out, Traver misled the public in a fear-mongering appearance on a Chicago NBC affiliate TV news show. In the interview, he hyped "the growing frequency of gang members and drug dealers using heavy caliber military-type weapons" and described them as if they were machine guns: "Pull the trigger and you can mow people down." Traver and his agents "provided the reporter with a fully automatic AK-47, with which she was unable to hit the target," the NRA reported. "He then said that stray bullets are 'one of the main problems with having stuff like this available to the gangs.'"
Except for the fact, contradicting the implication of the NBC scare story and Traver's rhetoric, that fully automatic firearms are not available for sale through normal retail outlets. But the truth wouldn't have made for a story as sensationalized and swaggering as the one Traver helped concoct.
Instead of focusing on criminals, the bureaucracy-expanding ATF suits and their left-leaning, anti-gun benefactors target law-abiding gun dealers and shop owners. Far easier to shoot fish in a barrel than reptiles slithering in the dark.
Second Amendment activist Mike Vanderboegh, who helped expose the ATF's emerging Project Gunrunner scandal (in which botched sting operations have allowed straw purchasers monitored by the feds to walk untold thousands of guns across the southern border), says Traver is known to be a "managerial bad apple in ATF circles." He rose through the agency hierarchy, "all the while making friends of notorious Illinois anti-firearm rights politicians of both parties. He has had personal friendly contact with Barack Obama and Hizzoner, the King of Chicago Richard Daley. He has worked with the virulently anti-firearm Joyce Foundation ... putting his efforts and his name to a report which calls for more firearm bans and regulations that amount to the gutting of the Second Amendment."
NRA's Chris Cox summed up the nomination bluntly: "You might as well put an arsonist in charge of the fire department."
Traver's pending nomination hearing comes as Republican watchdogs Sen. Charles Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa turn up the heat on the Obama administration's stonewallers over Project Gunrunner. The State Department, Justice Department and ATF have failed to produce documents in a timely manner on a bloody initiative that has been tied to the deaths of at least two American law enforcement officials. Traver would be another go-along, get-along Chicago cog in the machine. Americans need someone who'll strip the whitewash, not second-coat it.
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Michelle Malkin [email her] is the author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores. Click here for Peter Brimelow's review. Click here for Michelle Malkin's website. Michelle Malkin is also author of Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild and the just-released Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies.