Substantial increases in gun violence in many of America’s Democratically-run cities this summer have forced President Joe Biden to come up with a strategy targeting law-breaking gun dealers amid criticism from Republican leaders.
The plan provides federal funding to police departments and allows communities in cities most impacted by gun violence to use federal funding aimed at coronavirus relief for proven anti-gun violence programs, the White House said Wednesday.
The president is expected to deliver a “comprehensive strategy,” according to the White House and will “give state and local officials a number of tools” to combat crimes involving guns, a senior Biden administration official noted Tuesday, ABC News reported.
According to an ABC News report, communities will be able to spend a portion of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on summer jobs programs, hiring more police officers, social workers, and nurses. The funding could also come from $350 billion in state and local funding, as well as funding set aside for schools.
This Biden plan comes a year after Black Lives Matter protesters rioted in dozens of U.S. cities and demanded the defunding of police departments after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died while in Minneapolis Police custody.
A number of Democratically-run cities, such as Seattle–which was under siege for more than a month last year–have seen a spike in their respective homicide rates as a result of gun violence since those riots commenced in 2020.
“2020 was just a crazy complicated year where lots of things happened, and there are lots of potential explanations for why we saw these big changes,” David Abrams, a University of Pennsylvania Law School professor, told the Associated Press.
Among those Democratically-led cities with the largest increase in gun violence are Portland, New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.
Gun violence marred the first-ever national observance of Juneteenth when shootings erupted in several observances of the newest federal holiday.
One of those shootings was at Lake Merritt in Oakland, Californian, where seven people were shot and one man died. In Aurora, Colorado, several gunmen fired more than 100 rounds at partygoers outside a mall, killing one and wounding four others, and in Philadelphia, three people were wounded when several people started shooting at a graduation party.
“As many of us began the day celebrating Juneteenth for the first time as a federally recognized holiday, we again found ourselves lamenting as an otherwise beautiful afternoon had been sullied with gun violence,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department announced its plan to launch a gun trafficking strike force in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., and curb the spread of violence perpetrated through the use of stolen or illegally purchased guns.
The strike force will be led by various U.S. Attorney’s offices and coordinate with local law enforcement agencies and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to focus on “significant firearms trafficking.”
The DOJ plans to launch its strike force in those key cities within the next 30 days.
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