Washington: President Joe Biden outlined several actions on Wednesday that his administration is taking to curb the recent rise in violent crime and gun violence, ahead of a summer that experts worry could be especially deadly, CNBC reported.
“Crime historically rises during the summer. And as we emerge from this pandemic with the country opening back up again, the traditional summer spike may even be more pronounced than it usually would be,” Biden said at the White House.
In order to respond to the rise in gun crimes, Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland announced tougher enforcement policies for federal gun control laws, as well as new guidelines to help cities and states make better use of federal Covid relief funding to combat gun violence, including by hiring police officers.
Homicides spiked by 30% in 2020 over the previous year, according to data provided by the White House, a surge that shows no signs of abating.
In the first quarter of this year, the nationwide homicide rate was 24% higher than it was in the same period of 2020 and 49% higher than two years ago.
Biden and Garland also held a meeting Wednesday with the mayors of Baltimore and Miami, the police chief of Baton Rouge, La., and several other stakeholders to discuss crime prevention.
Across the country, mayors and police chiefs have struggled to explain what’s behind the rise in mass shootings, homicides and other violent crimes.
Experts point to a perfect storm of factors that collided during the pandemic. They include a surge in private gun sales, widespread unemployment and Covid stay-at-home orders that left people trapped inside with little to do.
At the same time, protests against police killings of Black people may have diverted police resources away from traditional policing, and eroded public confidence in law enforcement.
And given that policing in America tends to be highly localized, Biden’s options at the federal level are limited.
Biden and Garland announced that starting Wednesday, the Justice Department would adopt a zero-tolerance policy for federally licensed gun dealers who violate gun sales laws.
Biden also announced the launch of five new federal strike forces led by the ATF to monitor and intercept firearm smuggling along several significant gun trafficking corridors between major cities.