Defending the embattled Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called for stricter gun laws.
Feinstein’s comments came Tuesday at a Senate Judiciary Commitee hearing on transnational organized crime.
After Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer faced a number of probing questions from ranking Republican Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa.) about the failed ATF Mexican gunwalking program Operation Fast and Furious, Feinstein argued that enhancing the bureau’s capabilities would ultimately help combat violence in Mexico.
She said that lax gun laws and regulations in border states allow Mexican drug cartels to heavily arm themselves, and have fueled the explosion in gang violence that has gripped the country over the past decade.
“The number of deaths caused by American guns are up in the tens of thousands,” she said, claiming that 70% of guns seized in Mexico were traced back to the United States.
Breuer agreed with the assessment and said that giving the ATF information about gun sales, and enhancing its regulatory functions would help stem the violence.
“If the ATF were given the ability to know when guns are purchased” the United States could investigate crimes more effectively, he said.
He also said that the Justice Department would like to see legislation passed that would give the federal government “the ability to forfeit the weapons of the dealers who are knowingly selling to criminals.”
Later in the hearing, Sen. Grassley entered into the record a report refuting Feinstein’s claim about the percentage of guns in Mexico that come from the United States.