(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says the Obama administration may have launched a failed gun-tracking operation along the Mexican border because “they don’t like the Second Amendment” and want to “restrict guns.”
Grassley is leading the Senate’s investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) knowingly allowed semi-automatic guns such as AK-47s to be straw-purchased in the U.S., then sent to Mexican drug trafficking organizations.
Grassley said he does not know definitively if there was a political motivation, but he suspects there was:
“My suspicion is they don’t like the Second Amendment the way it is, and they are going to do everything to hurt guns and restrict guns. So they could have been building a case for that. But I can’t prove that.”
Operation Fast and Furious began in September 2009 but was halted after two of the weapons were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
Operation Fast and Furious ended with the indictment of 20 straw purchasers but no one from the drug cartels, which were a primary target of the program.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a second hearing on the matter next week, on Tuesday.
Even before the botched gun-tracking operation came to light, President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and other high-ranking administration officials talked about the need to curb the alleged flow of guns from the United States into Mexico.
During a joint press conference on April 16, 2009 in Mexico City with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Obama talked about gun-tracing, calling it an area “where I think that we can make some significant progress.”
Holder mentioned gun smuggling as a priority in a speech to a police group on April 15, 2010.
“In particular, we'll be soliciting your assistance in our reinvigorated drug enforcement efforts -- work that is driving an enhanced focus on Mexico and on our southwest border,” Holder said. “To date, the (Justice) Department has launched a series of efforts aimed at confronting the threats posed by Mexican cartels, by sophisticated criminal organizations, by smugglers of guns, drugs and cash, and by those intent on illegally crossing into our country.”
Just last month, the Justice Department announced that all gun shops in four Southwest border states will be required to notify the federal government about frequent buyers of rifles.
Under the new policy, federal firearms licensees in Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico must report purchases of two or more of some types of rifles by the same person in a five-day span. The requirement applies to purchases of semi-automatic rifles that have detachable magazines and a caliber of greater than .22 – the kind of weapons favored by Mexican drug cartels.
NRA Executive Director Chris Cox called the reporting requirement "a blatant effort by the Obama administration and ATF to divert focus of Congress and the general public from their gross incompetence in the Fast and Furious scandal."