Obama Administration Not Enforcing Gun Laws, Rep. Issa Says

July 8, 2011 - 5:46 AM

Mexico Drug War

Soldiers stand guard during a media presentation of a weapons cache that includes 154 rifles and shotguns and over 92,000 rounds of ammunition, in Mexico City, Friday June 3, 2011. Army Gen. Edgar Luis Villegas said Friday the weapons were found in "a subterranean stockpile" at a ranch near the northern city of Monclova this week. Authorities believe the weapons belonged to the Zetas drug cartel. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

(CNSNews.com) - Compared with the Bush administration, the Obama administration is lax when it comes to enforcing gun laws, says Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House committee that is investigation a botched gun-tracking operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"Under President George W. Bush, U.S. attorneys were even fired for not enforcing guns laws strictly enough," Issa told Fox News on Thursday. But, he added, under the Obama administration, "there seems to be a 'don't bother to enforce at all' policy, so that disturbs us -- that there's less gun enforcement about illegal gun transactions under an administration that theoretically is more for gun control, and George W. Bush went out of his way to try to help the Mexicans by having a zero tolerance to illegal guns sales that could end up in Mexico."

Issa told Fox News the Obama administration should not have reversed the Bush policy of strictly enforcing the nation’s gun laws.

Issa’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee is trying to find out who in Obama's Justice Department authorized the ATF’s “Operation Fast and Furious,” in which straw purchasers were allowed to buy guns in the U.S. – in some cases, with taxpayer money, Issa said -- and then send those guns to Mexican drug cartels.

The goal was to track the guns to see where they'd end up, but Issa says tracking devices were not put on most of the guns: 

“With only two exceptions where they put tracking devices on (the guns) was there any physical tracking beyond basically a few hours of following the first car, at most. In one case, they did watch (the guns) go on a GPS device quite a ways into Mexico, but of course they didn’t inform the Mexican officials, and they didn’t have a team on the other side of the border to follow it, so at some point the signal simply disappeared.”

Two of the straw-purchased guns ended up near the body of a murdered U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona in December.

Because the operation involved wiretaps and other agencies -- including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Attorney's office in Arizona -- Issa said it's clear to him that the guns-to-Mexico operation goes to the "highest levels" of the Justice Department.

Attorney General Eric Holder isn't commenting on the gun-tracking operation, citing an ongoing internal investigation by the Justice Department.