Cornyn to Obama: Reinstate Provision Ending ‘Gun-Walking’

Today, I asked President Obama to reinstate a provision, passed unanimously last fall, that would prevent federal agencies from engaging in the practice of "gun-walking."

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to express my concern with your failure to include a provision in your Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request that would prohibit federal agencies from engaging in the ill-advised practice of “gun-walking.” As you are aware, components of the Department of Justice used this practice during a universally-condemned program known as “Operation Fast and Furious.” In that program, Department of Justice officials knowingly allowed the transfer of approximately 2,000 firearms to suspected drug cartel agents and proceeded to let those weapons “walk” into the hands of criminals by intentionally breaking off direct surveillance of them. Tragically, many of these weapons have shown up at the scenes of violent crimes on both sides of the United States-Mexico border, including two AK-47s that were used in the December 2010 murder of United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

For the past 13 months, Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Darrell Issa have led a congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, as well as the Department of Justice’s use of similar “gun-walking” tactics. During this investigation, Attorney General Holder and his Department have repeatedly failed to disclose requested documents and have attempted to obstruct this investigation through other means—including the transmission of a February 4, 2011 letter that mislead Congress by falsely claiming the Department had not engaged in the practice of “gun-walking.” In light of the Department of Justice’s failure to provide credible assurances that it would end this practice on its own, I authored an amendment to the 2012 appropriations bill for Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies that made it illegal to expend taxpayer money on “gun-walking.” The Senate unanimously passed this amendment on October 18, 2011 and you signed similar language into law on November 18, 2011.

Though you may have complete confidence in Attorney General Holder’s ability to ensure that his Department does not carry out further “gun-walking” programs like Operation Fast and Furious, 99 U.S. Senators have voted otherwise. The tragic failures of the Department of Justice have made it imperative for us to speak with precision so that they never again endanger the lives of American citizens through the use of “gun-walking” tactics. Given the loss of life and Attorney General Holder’s admission that more deaths are likely, I ask that you amend your Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request to include a provision that expressly prohibits federal agencies from engaging in the practice of “gun-walking.” Sincerely,

Senator John Cornyn


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