Obama’s ATF: Too Busy Gun Smuggling to Arrest Criminals?

During GW Bush’s second term, AG Alberto Gonzales lacked Ashcroft’s support for the Second Amendment, proclaiming his support for renewing the Clinton gun ban during his confirmation hearing. AFT referrals declined 19.4% under Gonzales.

Obama took office and mirrored Clinton regarding gun control. A month after inauguration, his new Attorney General Eric Holder said:

As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons.

One of his justifications was that “it would help cut down on the flow of guns going across the border into Mexico.” Said Holder: “I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum.”

Holder didn’t consult Mexico’s homicide data before proclaiming the above assumption. Mexican homicide rates declined from 1997 until reaching a low-point in 2007, three years after the Clinton ban sunset. It began trending upwards again after President Calderon declared war on the cartels, authorizing his military to engage in a domestic conflict.

Not only is Holder prosecuting fewer gun-related felonies, but his DOJ recently “scuttled pending terror finance indictments of several prominent Islamic leaders.” Pajama’s Media’s Patrick Poole reported that “career DOJ prosecutors and the FBI agents who had investigated the case were outraged that the indictments had been nixed by political appointees under Holder.”

Meanwhile, the ATF was busy helping straw purchasers -- violators of the U.S. Code mentioned above -- move guns from American gun stores into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. An ATF memo shows that since November 2009, 1,725 firearms were purchased under the “Gunrunner” program, with only 250 recovered.

TRAC reports that ATF referrals for criminal prosecution declined 5.4% in the last reporting year, and 18.0% in the last five years.

These data show a consistent trend where presidential administrations -- along with their attorneys general -- who are most vehement in limiting the rights of law-abiding Americans are the least committed to prosecuting real criminals.

* TRAC data compiled into Excel spreadsheet, which contains citations.