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President Joe Biden pushed an incomplete picture of the country's crime problem during the White House's rollout of his second round of anti-gun measures.
Biden unveiled plans on Wednesday for the Justice Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to, among other measures, adopt a zero-tolerance approach to rogue federally licensed gun dealers, overlooking crime committed without firearms.
Biden emphasized that “crime historically rises during the summer,” predicting the trend will be exacerbated by the country's reopening after the pandemic.
"The gun lobby wants you to believe that cities that have the toughest gun laws still have the highest rates of gun violence. Don't believe it," he said. "We’re taking on the bad actors doing bad things to our communities."
"We're not changing the constitution. We're enforcing it, being reasonable," he added, telling reporters he will "never" give up hope that Congress will renew a so-called assault weapons ban.
On Wednesday, the White House also touted its proposal to bring together state attorneys general and lawmakers to discuss how to hold gun dealers and manufacturers responsible. This comes one day after the Justice Department announced it was assembling multi-jurisdictional strike forces to stop the illegal transfer of firearms across state borders.
The conversations will convene in conjunction with ones focused on community violence intervention programs.
"We will hold gun dealers who break the rules accountable for their action,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said before Biden's remarks, including revoked licenses.
Biden went on to describe them as "merchants of death," who "are breaking the law for profit."
The White House, too, highlighted how state, local, territorial, and tribal governments could apply for federal funding for initiatives such as paying police officers or creating summer job opportunities for teenagers and young adults to keep them out of trouble.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday some of this funding is provided through the $1.9 trillion coronavirus spending package has been available since March when Congress approved the legislation.
The event, held in the White House State Room, started 90 minutes late after a meeting between Biden, Garland, top White House aides, mayors, and law enforcement officials lasted longer than expected.
While last year's reported number of homicides was up 30% and firearm assaults by 8% in large cities around the country, there has been an increase in other crimes. Car thefts in Washington, D.C., are up by 30%, robberies in New York City have risen by 48%, and rapes in Atlanta have spiked by 98%. But most of the country was either locked down or under severe restrictions in 2020 during the pandemic, with many people staying home.
Psaki responded to criticism Tuesday by insisting "gun violence is absolutely the driver" of most personal and property crimes statistics.
"Take St. Louis: In 2021, 96% of homicides where the instrument is known were committed using a firearm," she said. "In New York City, from March 2020 to March 2021, shooting incidents have jumped 77%. The city recorded more than 1,500 shootings in 2020, 97% more than 777 in 2019."
Biden introduced his first slate of anti-gun executive action in April, cracking down on ghost firearms and stabilizing braces, encouraging the implementation of red flag laws, and nominating David Chipman as head of the AFT.
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Original Author: Naomi Lim