Amid Soaring US Crime, Biden Meets Police Chiefs

Amid Soaring US Crime, Biden Meets Police Chiefs

United States President Joe Biden met with city police chiefs, elected officials and a community response expert at the White House on Monday as his administration struggles to deal with an upsurge in crime caused by the rise of gun violence in the United States.
“We recognize that we must come together for the first responsibility of democracy: to protect each other,” Biden said ahead of the meeting. “And that’s what the American people are looking for when it comes to reducing violent crime and gun violence.”

Biden’s latest White House talks come amid an outbreak of gun violence in some of the country’s largest cities. Over the weekend of July 10-11 in Chicago, 40 people were shot dead, 11 fatally. Three people died and 11 were injured by gun violence in Philadelphia. And in New York City, three teenagers were killed in separate incidents, according to local reports.

Last month, Biden announced a call for a review of U.S. gun laws and unveiled measures to reduce the availability of guns used in crimes. The president announced a series of measures in April to hold gun dealers accountable for selling guns without performing a background check and will help states use COVID-19 emergency funds to hire more police.

Biden’s executive orders signed in April include a push from the Justice Department to better control self-assembled “ghost weapons”.

“During the meeting, the president will discuss his crime reduction strategy which grants cities and states historic funding through the US bailout and a range of tools they can use to improve public safety. in their communities, including support for community violence intervention programs, summer employment opportunities and other proven methods of reducing crime, ”White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who recently won the Democratic nomination and is likely to be the next New York mayor, as well as the mayors of Washington, DC, and San Jose, Calif., Were in a meeting with Biden on Monday.

Police chiefs in Chicago and the mid-sized US cities Memphis, Wilmington and Newark also joined Biden with Attorney General Merrick Garland, the top law enforcement official in the United States.

Phantom weapons on display at San Francisco Police Department headquarters in 2019 [File: Haven Daley/AP Photo]

The latest shootings in the United States are part of an established trend. Homicides in major US cities rose 30% in 2020 and rose 24% in the first half of 2021, the New York Times reported citing unofficial data collected by criminologists.

Authorities are projecting even more violence as the United States increasingly emerges from pandemic lockdowns. Authorities fear that there will no longer be mass shootings targeting large gatherings with semi-automatic or automatic weapons.

Four people have been arrested in Denver after a weapons and ammunition cache was discovered at a hotel near the venue of the Major League Baseball All-Star game on July 13. So far, investigators have found no evidence to suggest the group was conspiring. a mass shooting or other similar attack, an official told The Associated Press.

Biden wants to ban AR-15 style rifles displayed here for sale in a gun store in California [File: Bing Guan/Al Jazeera]

In the United States, gun rights are constitutionally protected, and guns – both legal and illegal – are widely available, making gun control one of the most difficult issues for officials. government at all levels.

Biden vowed during his campaign that he would take action against gun violence on the first day of his administration, but critics said his efforts to date have been limited.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress is unlikely to act on significant changes to federal gun laws, which already require background checks for most purchases. State laws vary, but generally restrict when and where a firearm may be transported, stored, or used.

The wave of crime could become a political handicap for the president and his Democratic Party. Republicans have sought to portray Biden as supporting calls to “fund the police” that surfaced during the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer in May 2020.

Biden rejected those calls and called on Congress to increase funding for community policing by $ 300 million. Biden is also asking for $ 750 million in additional funds for the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

White House officials say local communities across the country are using money from Biden’s COVID-19 rescue program to bolster summer programming, create employment opportunities in at-risk communities and fund relief programs. community violence intervention – any measures aimed at reducing armed violence.


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