"Congress has debated the efficacy and constitutionality of federal regulation of firearms and ammunition, with strong advocates arguing for and against greater gun control. Since March 2011, much of the gun control debate in the 112th Congress has swirled around allegations that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) mishandled a Phoenix, AZ-based gun trafficking investigation known as 'Operation Fast and Furious.' Senator Charles Grassley, ranking minority Member on the Committee on the Judiciary, and Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, have issued two joint staff reports on Operation Fast and Furious, and the House committee has held three related hearings. On November 1, 2011, a high-ranking DOJ official testified before the Senate Judiciary's Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee that he had identified 'gun walking' as a potentially risk laden investigative technique in April 2010 in connection with another ATF investigation, Operation Wide Receiver, but failed to inform the Attorney General about the potential risks […] This report concludes with discussion of other salient and recurring gun control issues that have generated past congressional interest. Those issues include (1) screening firearms background check applicants against terrorist watch lists, (2) reforming the regulation of federally licensed gun dealers, (3) requiring background checks for private firearms transfers at gun shows, (4) more-strictly regulating certain firearms previously defined in statute as 'semiautomatic assault weapons,' and (5) banning or requiring the registration of certain long-range .50 caliber rifles, which are commonly referred to as 'sniper' rifles. To set these and other emerging issues in context, this report provides basic firearms-related statistics, an overview of federal firearms law, and a summary of legislative action in the 111th Congress."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32842