BELLEVUE, WA – After Senator Joseph Lieberman released contents of his letter to Attorney General Eric Holder supporting a proposed long gun sales reporting requirement in southwest states, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms today urged Lieberman to instead support an on-going investigation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ botched Project Gunrunner.

In a letter to Sen. Lieberman, CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb reminded him that press reports and documents relating to Gunrunner indicate that the ATF “abetted the movement of firearms into the illicit gun market, and ultimately to drug cartels in Mexico.” Gottlieb also expressed his surprise that Lieberman’s letter to Holder did not mention either Gunrunner or Operation Fast-and-Furious, a project handled by the Phoenix ATF field office. Both of those efforts are believed to have let thousands of guns to be “walked” into the hands of Mexican criminals.

“I am astonished that you now support a strategy that places firearms dealers and their customers under additional scrutiny of an agency that may very well be largely responsible for creating a problem you now expect it to resolve,” Gottlieb wrote. “The agency to which you now advocate giving more power over firearms transactions in southwest states was responsible for allowing criminal suspects to complete multiple purchases of so-called ‘assault rifles,’ despite the concerns of those licensed dealers you would have ATF micro-manage, and over the objections of its own field agents.”

Gottlieb reminds the senator that ATF has recently shuffled its entire Phoenix management team, moving the two top agents who oversaw Fast-and-Furious to ATF headquarters in Washington, D.C., where one is now cooperating with investigations launched by Sen. Charles Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa.

“It is not the southwest firearms dealers who need investigating, Senator, but the ATF,” he said. “It is not those gun dealers who should be held accountable for the flood of illicit firearms into Mexico, but the ATF officials who not only allowed it to happen, but encouraged it.

“Instead of supporting this new reporting strategy, I urge you to instead exercise your considerable influence to support Senator Grassley’s investigation of the Gunrunner controversy,” Gottlieb concluded.