BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Federal authorities are stepping up their efforts to fight gun traffickers. The move comes after a controversial investigation by the ATF.
Monique Griego has more on how Congress hopes keep illegal weapons off the streets.
Thousands of high-powered rifles put in the hands of criminals and Mexican cartels. It was all part of an ATF operation called “Fast and Furious.”
Agents admitted to Congress they stood by and only videotaped, as thousands of guns were taken into Mexico.
“I want to make it clear that we are very troubled by ‘Fast and Furious,'” said Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings.
As part of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Cummings played a key role in investigating “Fast and Furious.”
“It is our belief that we are going to have to look at this case very carefully and we must go where the evidence leads,” Cummings said.
Cummings says so far, the investigation has found a flawed law enforcement system.
“They don’t have the tools to counter the avalanche of guns going into Mexico every day,” Cummings said.
They said one major problem was that when criminals were actually caught with weapons, lax laws meant they walked away with a slap on the wrist.
Besides stricter penalties, the committee’s report also cites a need for better reports on multiple long gun sales and a federal statute against gun trafficking.
“Conducting oversight is pointless unless we translate what we learn into action,” Cummings said.
Cummings and several other lawmakers took action by unveiling the Stop Gun Trafficking and Strengthen Law Act, which will expose violators to very severe penalties.
And empower federal agencies like the ATF who say they were outgunned when it came to fighting traffickers.
This new law will increase the maximum penalty for gun traffickers to 25 years in prison. Before, because there was no federal statute, traffickers would often walk away with just probation.