House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, is threatening to begin contempt proceedings if the Justice Department doesn’t start providing documents about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious. But what’s the controversy about? And what could the documents show?
In Project Gunrunner, ATF allowed American guns – including AK-47 assault rifles and military-grade, .50 caliber sniper rifles – to be smuggled into Mexico and sold to drug cartels, with the goal of tracking the weapons after they’ve been used.
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.
The results, in at least one instance, were tragic. Two AK-47s ATF officials were tracking were found at the scene of U.S. border agent Brian Terry’s murder.
Suspected firearms trafficker Jaime Avila, who bought the two Project Gunrunner AK-47s found at the scene of the murder, was arrested shortly afterwards on gun crimes. But no one has been charged with Terry’s murder.
Why does Obama want guns to be allowed to kill Americans by Mexican druglords?