Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) questioned Justice Department official Lanny Breuer at a hearing on Tuesday about Attorney General Eric Holder’s knowledge of ATF’s flawed Operation Fast and Furious, the day after Breuer apologized for not connecting the “gun walking” tactics that took place during a Bush-era ATF operation to the more recent anti-gun trafficking operation.
Breuer said during his testimony that he trusted officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to make sure that agents weren’t allowing guns to “walk” across the Mexican border, as they learned happened back in 2006 and 2007 during Operation Wide Receiver.
“At the time, I thought that dealing with the leadership of ATF was sufficient and reasonable, and frankly given the amount of work I do, at the time I thought that was the appropriate way of dealing with it,” Breuer said. “I thought we had dealt with it by talking to the ATF leadership.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said that the larger issue was that U.S. gun laws were too weak to combat gun trafficking.
“I’ve been here 18 years, I’ve watched the ATF get beaten up at every turn of the road. Candidly, it’s just not right,” Feinstein said. “We have more guns in this country than we have people, and somebody’s got to come to the realization that when these guns go to the wrong places, scores of deaths result, and that’s exactly the case with the cartels.” Breuer agreed.
“It is clear that we need more tools to get those people who are buying the guns and illegally transporting them to Mexico,” Breuer said. “We cannot permit the guns to go knowingly and we cannot permit the guns to go unknowingly, we need to stop the flow.”
Breuer said that the number one tool that would be of help would be if ATF was given the ability to know when guns are purchased.
“We don’t want to do anything to people who are selling to law-abiding citizens, but we have to stop these dealers from selling to criminals,” Breuer said.
Video of Breuer’s exchange with Grassley below.