SHOT Show Sting

Twenty-two executives and employees of firearms manufacturing companies were arrested this week at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas after a 2 1/2-year undercover sting operation aimed at schemes to bribe a foreign official.

The Justice Department calls the case the largest single investigation and prosecution of individuals in the history of the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars bribery of foreign government officials. It also is the first large-scale use of an undercover operation in enforcing the act.

Charged are people at companies in eight states and executives at companies in the United Kingdom and Israel. The defendants allegedly agreed to pay a 20 percent commission to a sales agent they believed represented the defense minister for an African country to win a multimillion-dollar deal to outfit the presidential guard.

The sales agent was actually an undercover FBI agent, and no defense minister was involved at all.

Initial reaction among Second Amendment advocates is skepticism, and a question: What is the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act?

Gun Examiner David Codrea on examiner.com cautioned that there is still much unknown about the allegations in the indictments, but noted state and local harassment of gun shows has been increasing.

"Now we're seeing [harassment] directed by high levels in the Justice Department at the trade show of the year," he writes. "Will the NRA Annual Meeting be the next convenient 'opportunity?'"

The Justice Department maintains that the sting has nothing to do with the firearms industry, but with bribery of foreign government officials. If so, Codrea asks, "Will similar spectacular efforts soon be unfolding with other industries--and if not, why not?"

Syd Weedon of Front Sight, Press writes that the violations took so much work by law enforcement agencies to induce, that the agencies should be "held equally culpable as part of the conspiracy--especially in a case like this, where the violation is highly technical and the targets of the sting might not even realize they were in violation."

Too bad the FBI and other law enforcement agencies aren't using these tactics to "capture a known terrorist or high-level drug trafficker," Syd laments.

Especially since the agency apparently spent $2.1 million per arrest during this 30-month investigation, according to "JoeT" on northeastshooters.com:

"Let's see, at $75,000 a year, it's $6,250 a month per agent," he calculates. "$6250 x 30 months = $187,500 per agent. $187,500 x 250 agents = $46,875,000 to arrest 22 people."

Voila! That's $46.875 million of your tax money to arrest 22 people, or more than $2.1 million each.

"And I may not understand this correctly, but their charge is bribing someone for a government contract, that doesn't exist, in Africa," JoeT continues. "Is the government pissed because it wasn't their bribe? I was under the impression that this is how government contracts are made. How is this different than 'special interest groups' giving money?"

It's different, says Rob Taylor on red-alerts.com, because it involves the firearms industry, and the Obama Administration is now going to show its true colors by harassing the industry since it has been unsuccessful in changing the laws.

"I say this is a set up," Taylor writes. Those arrested "were the targets of a sting that almost any multinational corporation would have fallen into when doing business overseas. The question I have is, why legal arms manufacturers are being targeted by the FBI while militant Islam is increasing its activity here and abroad?"

For more, go to:

-- U.S Justice Department's "Lay-Person's Guide" to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA);