Biden administration announces five point strategy to combat gun violence
Following a year of unrelenting gun violence and senseless deaths occurring across the nation, the Biden White House acted this week by announcing a five-point strategy for combatting the surge of violent crimes.
While saying President Joe Biden believes the rising tide of gun violence is unacceptable and sees the problem as a public health epidemic, senior administration officials laid out the plan. During a news briefing, they announced a comprehensive strategy to implement preventative measures that are proven to reduce violent crimes while attacking the root causes – including addressing the flow of firearms used to commit crimes.
Calling the nationwide increase in gun violence a “secondary consequence of the pandemic,” the White House officials said this plan allows the U.S. Treasury Department to release the rescue funds and provide guidance for their use to cities and states struggling with these untenable issues of violent crimes.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s five-part strategy will use funds from the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to help local governments combat gun violence and other violent crime – while putting more police officers on the beat – with the resources, training, and accountability they need to engage in effective community policing.
In addition, it will support proven Community Violence Intervention programs, summer employment opportunities, and other investments that we know will reduce crime and make our neighborhoods safer.
The strategy will also address the direct link between gun violence and the rise in violent crime by taking immediate steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands. This includes strengthening ATF’s efforts to stem the flow of firearms used in crimes, and by launching multijurisdictional firearms trafficking strike forces to stop illegal gun trafficking across state lines.
About $350 billion in rescue funds will be earmarked for state, local, territorial and tribal governments, with flexibility for each locale to use the money as it sees fit, Biden administration officials said. The Biden strategy also carved out a specific role for Atlanta, one of 14 jurisdictions that will work together to increase investment in community violence intervention and commit a portion of their rescue funds to that end. Local governments will be able to apply for funds to hire more police, pay police overtime or spend on community programs designed to alleviate the root causes of gun violence. Additional funding will also be granted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to stem the flow of illegal firearms and provide additional support at the local level.
Officials said stemming the flow of illegal, or illegally acquired, firearms and enacting much stricter policing of gun dealers is a focus of the strategy. The Biden administration plans to enact a zero-tolerance policy for what it calls “rogue gun dealers who willfully violate the law.” Federally licensed gun dealers can now have their license revoked the first time they sell a gun to a prohibited person, fail to run a background check, fail to respond to an ATF tracing request and more.
Another focus of the White House strategy is the formation of a Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, a group of 14 jurisdictions committed to increased spending on intervention measures. Along with Atlanta, the group includes other jurisdictions that have made national headlines for high rates of violence, including Chicago; King County, Washington, which includes Seattle; Los Angeles; Minneapolis and St. Paul; and Washington, D.C. “The President is calling on mayors across the country to follow the lead of these local officials by using their ARP funding or other public funds to launch and strengthen CVI programs in their communities,” administration officials said.
The rescue funds could provide additional cash that would allow Atlanta to hire more police officers to stem the rise in gun violence the city has been besieged with. “I continue to be grateful for the leadership of (Biden),” she said in a social media post. “His unwavering support of communities across America will make a tremendous difference as we address gun violence in our nation.”
In response to the crime wave in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp recently released $5 million in emergency funds for state law enforcement agencies.