Thursday, April 21, 2011

Electronic Tracking Revisited

Earlier in the month I speculated about the ATF, Project Gunrunner, and GPS tracking chips. My thoughts on the subject were spurred by comments made by Michael Bane in his Down Range Radio podcast.

Today, while looking for reaction to the threat of a Contempt of Congress cititation made by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), I came across an article in The Daily Caller which gave a bare-bones outline of Project Gunrunner. The article by Michael Boyle was entitled What we know about Project Gunrunner. Contained in the article was this about its origins:
The project began during the Bush administration in Laredo, Texas, in 2005 as a trial, morphing into a national program in 2006. The guns were sold and tracked electronically, giving law enforcement agents valuable intelligence on where the weapons went and who had them.

During the Bush years, no guns were allowed to cross the border into Mexico. When President Obama took office in 2009, things changed. Obama’s ATF continued Project Gunrunner, but made a crucial decision to allow guns to be “walked” into Mexico, eventually ending up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
If this article is indeed correct about firearms being electronically tagged and tracked as far back as 2005 during the Bush Administration, then a number of questions immediately come to mind.

First, if the guns sold out of Laredo in 2005 were electronically tagged and tracked, did ATF continue this method of electronically tagging and tracking the firearms sold later in Project Gunrunner?

Second, if they stopped the electronic tracking, this leads to the question why? Was it too expensive, too unreliable, or what? Did someone in the Obama Administration make the decision to discontinue the electronic tagging and tracking? Again, why?

Third, if the ATF did continue electronically tagging and tracking the straw purchases of firearms, then how did they lose track of these guns and let them cross the border into Mexico? It didn't happen during the Bush Administration (according the Daily Caller) so who made the conscious decision to allow tagged guns to cross the border.

Finally, if the guns were still tagged electronically, who was responsible for tracking them once they crossed the border into Mexico?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions nor do I have some inside source feeding me leaks. I'm just going on what was said was done during the Bush Administration by The Daily Caller and from what I've seen and read happened in the period since. It raises questions that should be answered in any investigation of Project Gunrunner or Operation Fast and Furious.


  1. It would be interesting to know some of these answers, but I suspect an electronic tag doesn't have much room to hide inside a gun, or could be lost in a simple stock, grip, or handguard upgrade.
    That it would be as easy to defeat as all the mumbojumbo about biometric guns too.

  2. @DirtCrashr: I agree that a tag probably doesn't have much room to hide. However, what is available to you and me would be far different (I'm assuming) than what is available to Federal law enforcement agencies.

    As to the grip/stock/handguard upgrade, I would agree with you. But if you are tracking guns to the cartels, I really doubt that they'd do upgrades before receiving the weapon if then.

  3. Hey John, the very first link in your article is to the Daily Caller article. I imagine you meant for that link to point here.

  4. Kurt - Thanks for catching that. I've corrected it.