President Joe Biden outlined his administration’s national crime prevention strategy Wednesday after meeting with local leaders on the issue, in remarks that focused on targeting gun violence and new resources for community policing across the country.
The Biden administration is responding to a rise in violent crime throughout the United States in the last 18 months, senior administration officials said, especially homicides and gun assaults. On Wednesday, Biden laid out his five-part plan for crime prevention while negotiations on both gun control legislation and a police reform bill are ongoing on Capitol Hill.
“I’ve been at this a long time. And there are things we know that work to reduce gun violence and violent crime,” the president said, pointing first to background checks and a ban on assault weapons.
Biden was joined by Attorney General Merrick Garland, who also outlined the Department of Justice’s efforts to reduce crime. The two met with city officials and anti-violence advocates in the White House beforehand.
The president’s Wednesday announcement came ahead of the potentially violent summer months when crime ticks up.
The plan Biden laid out Wednesday afternoon focuses on reducing the number of guns in communities plus targeting COVID-19 relief funds to help police departments and community efforts to prevent crime.
He specifically highlighted the need for tighter restrictions on firearms, including new enforcement efforts by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
“It’s zero tolerance for gun dealers who willfully violate key existing laws and regulations,” he said. “We’ll find you. And we will seek your license to sell guns. We’ll make sure you can sell death and mayhem on our streets.”
President Biden announced measures Wednesday to:
- Make it easier to revoke the licenses of gun dealers who violate federal law, plus add resources to the ATF
- Allow communities expecting a summer surge in crime to use funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) —the COVID-19 relief bill passed in March — to hire police officers up to pre-pandemic levels, invest in technology and boost community policing, especially in order to fight gun violence
- Invest in community-based intervention programs for both potential perpetrators and potential victims of gun violence, also through money in the COVID relief bill
- Through ARP funds, expand summer programming, employment opportunities and other forms of support for teens and young adults, such as food and housing assistance
- Help returning citizens adjust, find housing and find work after leaving prison, including through new funds announced by the Department of Labor this week