President Joe Biden announced Wednesday an effort to stem a rising national tide of violent crime as administration officials brace for what could be a turbulent summer.
Biden focused on attacking gun violence, funding cities that need police, and offering community support.
He and Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a “zero tolerance” policy that gives no leeway to gun dealers who fail to comply with federal law — their license to sell will be revoked on the first offense.
The Justice Department is launching strike forces in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., to help take down illegal gun traffickers.
According to the Associated Press, violent crime has been on the rise recently. Homicides and shootings are up in cities like Chicago; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Portland, Oregon; Baltimore; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Houston.
However, violent crime rates are still lower than they were five years ago, and well below levels than they have been in past decades.
The AP also reports that crime plummeted during the first months of the pandemic last year as Americans stayed in their homes. But numbers began ticking up last summer with criminologists citing historic unemployment, fear over the virus and mass anger over stay-at-home orders.
During a White House press briefing on Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked if Biden thought focusing on rising rates of crime would set back Democrat-led efforts to pass meaningful police reform legislation. Psaki said that Biden did not feel the two issues were conflicting.