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Mar 25, 2009   |  Senator Jon Tester

Tester: Gun control not ‘the right answer’ to fighting border violence

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Gun control is not “the right answer” to cracking down on crime and violence on America’s southern border with Mexico, Senator Jon Tester told a top U.S. Department of Justice official today.

During a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing this morning, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden testified about cracking down on drug-related violence on the Mexican border.

Mexican drug cartels are fighting each other and the Mexican military using firearms smuggled from the United States.

“I want to be clear,” Tester told Ogden.  “Some have used this latest outbreak in Mexico to argue for tighter gun control restrictions in the United States.  I don’t agree that that’s the right answer.  I think the right answer is really cooperation at all levels of government, and smarter intelligence—more eyes and ears on the border, getting tougher on criminals that are smuggling weapons and drugs.”

Earlier this month, Tester and Senator Max Baucus made national news for telling Attorney General Eric Holder to back down from any proposal to bring back the ban on assault weapons.  Holder suggested reinstating the ban in response to the violence in Mexico.

“I want to make sure that you have the resources to address gun crime and rather than ask for new gun laws,” Tester told Ogden today.  Tester, a staunch supporter of gun rights, praised the U.S. Justice Department for ramping up its resources to better track stolen guns and find smugglers.

“I’m a firm believer in getting the biggest value for the buck that we spend when it comes to taxpayer dollars,” Tester added.  “I think there’s a lot of folks from my state that think that’s money well spent to go get the bad guys.”

Tester also encouraged federal agencies to improve their relationships with local law enforcement agencies and landowners along the border, to keep out drugs, illegal immigrants and terrorist threats.

“I think that those relationships really need to be developed if we’re going to really get a firm grip on tightening up the border,” Tester said.  “I speak mainly from a northern border perspective, but if it applies to the southern border, then so be it. And so do it.”

Tester’s and Baucus’ recent letter to Attorney General Holder is online HERE.

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