The Obama administration has made it clear that they want to stop the sale of illegal firearms by closing loopholes, but on Tuesday during a hearing with President Obama’s nominee for ATF director, B. Todd Jones; Sen. Ted Cruz revealed that the Justice Department had neglected over 40,000 gun trafficking cases.
Jones, the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and former U.S. attorney stated during the testimony that:
“One of the priorities of the Department of Justice has always been, during my second tenure as U.S. attorney, protecting the American public from violent crime, including violent crime, and including violent firearm crimes”.
Cruz, also a former Justice Department official, proceeded to ask how important this priority was, citing data from 2010 that showed out of 48,231 cases of illegal firearm purchases, only 44 were prosecuted. Jones attempted to deflect from the question by commenting on “armed career criminals” but Cruz interrupted, and told Jones, “With respect, sir, my question wasn’t about armed career criminals”.
He continued his questioning by asking Jones if the statistic, 44 out of 48,000+, was an “acceptable allocation of prosecutorial resources”. Jones attempted to explain that few “lying and trying” cases are prosecuted due to the National Instant Criminal Check System (NIC), a safeguard that picks up on a majority of those attempting to buy firearms illegally.
“Prosecutorial resources are thin,” Jones said. He continued by citing that his court had pursued zero lying and trying cases. Cruz responded with a statement Jones had made earlier, “Are there other things you would describe as major priorities of the Department of Justice that at the same time you have chosen to prosecute zero cases, enforcing those so-called major priorities?”
Jones stumbled into his following answer, and wanted to reiterate during the testimony that the Department of Justice has always had a priority to eliminate violent crime. But when Cruz pressed Jones to say whether there had been any priorities that produced zero results—Jones deflected and referenced the arrest of four men involved in a terrorist plot in Minnesota, as evidence that national security is always “priority number one”.
Cruz ended the questioning when it became clear that Jones didn’t have an answer for the Department of Justice’s shortcomings. The hearing brings up a lot of questions regarding the Obama administrations attempts to disarm American citizens who obtain firearms legally, while ignoring those who are already breaking the law.