President Joe Biden is set to unveil a strategy on Wednesday (June 23) to address violent crime, which has seen a spike, particularly from gun violence, over the past year. His aides say he will call again for comprehensive gun reform legislation from Congress and outline a number of executive orders to address the problem, the Associated Press reports.
The White House is also expected to meet with Attorney General Merrick Garland, the mayors of Baltimore, Miami-Dade County, Rapid City, S.D., the New Jersey attorney general, the Baton Rouge, La., police chief and other activists to discuss the issue.
The strategy will use funding from the American Rescue Plan to assist state, local, territorial and tribal governments financially with law enforcement and community policing, a statement from the White House says. The funds are also targeted at supporting violence intervention programs, summer jobs, and other proactive crime prevention measures.
Since his presidential campaign, Biden has publicly been against the notion of defunding police departments and instead has supported better funding for community policing efforts.
“There needs to be reforms of police systems across the country. The president is a firm believer in that,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday (June 22). “But there are also steps he can take as president...to help address and hopefully reduce that crime. A big part of that, in his view, is putting in place gun safety measures.”
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The United States saw its most violent year in decades in 2020 with as many as 19,000 people killed in shootings, according to TIME magazine, citing data from the Gun Violence Archive, a website that takes records of shootings nationwide. The archive says 2021 has already topped that number with more than 20,000 gun-related deaths.
Cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and other municipalities are wringing their hands trying to figure out how to stem the tide of mass shootings while reforming police departments to avoid misconduct that results in incidents like the deaths of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor.
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot said her city, which has seen more than 100 mass shootings this year, has done as much as it can to push back against the violence and needs federal help.
“Cities individually cannot tackle this problem on its own – we just cannot. In ‘Chicago, we’ve done absolutely everything possible, and we need help from the federal government because this is a national problem,” she said, according to CBS Chicago.
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The Biden-Harris Administration will announce a Department of Justice policy that will hold firearms dealers who violate federal law accountable, strengthen regulations on “ghost guns” or a firearm that is manufactured in parts and can be assembled outside of a factory by its owner, and movement to install a permanent Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms director.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, speaking at a Police Executive Research Forum event on Tuesday, acknowledged how far gun violence has gone and said the federal government is committed to reducing it.
“It is staggering. It is sobering,” she said, according to the AP. “And it’s something that [the] DOJ is committed to do all we can to reverse what are profoundly troubling trends.”