AG Holder urges senators to confront gun violence


WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder is urging Congress to confront gun violence by requiring universal background checks, imposing tougher penalties on traffickers and banning high-capacity magazines and military-style assault weapons.

In prepared remarks, Holder tells the Senate Judiciary Committee that Congress should eliminate what he called misguided restrictions requiring federal agents to allow older weapons to be imported into the United States.

The attorney general also urged senators to confirm a new director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agency has been without a Senate-confirmed leader for six years. ATF has been mired in a long-running controversy stemming from a botched gun smuggling investigation in Arizona. ATF agents lost track of about 1,400 of more than 2,000 illicitly acquired weapons in the operation.

Holder was expected to be asked about a series of policy memoranda the Justice Department wrote, justifying the Obama administration's reliance on drone strikes to target individuals considered to be plotting attacks against the United States, including in some instances citizens of this country.