U.S. President Barack Obama said his administration has no plans to implement new controls on arms sales, despite acknowledging the severity of the problem of illegal arms trafficking and the difficulty in slowing that traffic south, a Mexican news outlet reported.
“It is impossible to stop all arms traffic from north to south,” Obama was quoted by El Informador online as saying in a press conference reportedly given to electronic media.
Obama added that his strategy to curb the illegal trafficking of arms from the U.S. into Mexico is to focus on more stringent enforcement of existing laws. Obama admitted that much improvement can be made on this front, following the so-called “Fast and Furious” scandal, the report said.
Under Operation Fast and Furious, carried out by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), U.S. officials allowed the sale of firearms to illegal purchasers in an attempt to trace gun-smuggling routes by Mexican gangs to the source buyer. However, around 1,700 weapons went missing during the nearly two-year investigation.
During that time period, close to 20,000 Mexican citizens died in organized crime-related activity, and one U.S. border patrol agent was killed in an incident where authorities found a weapon that the ATF let “walk,” according to subsequent investigations.
Obama was speaking just one day after U.S. attorney general Eric Holder told a Senate hearing that that the U.S. is “losing the battle” to stem the flow of weapons into Mexico. In a reference to Operation Fast and Furious, Holder described as “flawed” past U.S. attempts to tackle the problem and he told Senate that Congress should bear some responsibility for the problem due to its hostility towards gun control.