Arizona legislators said Monday they’re jumping into the review of a flawed federal gun-smuggling sting operation because it took place within their state.
A congressional probe is currently under way into the so-called Fast and Furious operation, which resulted in federal agents losing track of weapons that later ended up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S.
Arizona state House Speaker Andy Tobin said the special committee he created to investigate the botched gun-running sting is on a “fact-finding mission.”
“This was done on Arizona soil, with an Arizona scam that occurred,” Tobin said.
The Fast and Furious operation’s goal was to track the gun supply chain from small-time buyers at Phoenix-area gun shops and make cases against major weapons traffickers. In the process, federal agents lost track of many of the more than 2,000 guns linked to the operation.
Two of the guns purchased at a Phoenix gun store were recovered from the scene of a December 2010 shooting in the Arizona desert that killed border agent Brian Terry.
The special House committee’s chair, Republican Rep. David Burnell Smith of Carefree, announced Monday that the committee will determine whether the operation broke any state laws or if any new laws are needed.
Smith said he expects gun dealers to testify at the hearings that they were forced to sell guns to keep their licenses.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has agreed to review the committee’s findings but said he didn’t know what action, if any, his office would take on the report.
Tobin, a Republican, was asked at a news conference Monday if the committee would look into similar arms trafficking investigations that began during the Bush administration.
“There’s no facts that won’t be taken in,” Tobin said. “This is not a partisan issue. We have Democrat lawmakers who have contacted me and wanted to be a part of this.”
The federal probe has taken too long, Tobin said, and he wants to provide a forum for Arizonans who were affected by the operation.
“This is all about transparency in this process, and I think it’s time Arizonans stood on Arizona soil and started talk about this issue that affected our state, that affected our people, where we had victims,” Tobin said.