Biden to announce efforts to combat violent crime, gun violence


President Joe Biden speaks about reaching 300 million COVID-19 vaccination shots, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Friday, June 18, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden plans to unveil new steps to curtail gun violence across the country Wednesday, including measures aimed at stemming the flow of firearms used in crimes, after pledging to push for sweeping changes to firearms laws.

The actions will build on executive orders signed in April, when Biden asked the Justice Department to crack down on self-assembled “ghost guns,” senior administration officials said. Ghost guns are homemade firearms that usually are assembled from parts from gun kits and lack the serial numbers used to trace them.

So-called ghost gun kits are self-assembled from parts purchased online or at gun shows and are increasingly associated with crimes. But they are not classified as firearms and so can be legally sold without serial numbers or background checks.

Biden is set to deliver remarks at 3:30 p.m. ET. NewsNation will livestream his remarks in the player above.

Biden also plans new steps to hold rogue firearms dealers accountable for violating federal laws, help states employ more police officers using funds approved earlier this year to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and strengthen efforts by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to stop illegal gun trafficking across states.

Homicides rose 30%, and gun assaults rose 8% in large cities in 2020, the White House said in fact sheet released Wednesday morning.

While crime is rising — homicides and shootings are up from the same period last year in Chicago; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Portland, Oregon; Baltimore; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Houston — violent crime overall remains lower than it was a decade ago or even five years ago. And most violent crimes plummeted during the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic, as people stayed indoors and away from others.

Crime started creeping up last summer, a trend criminologists say is hard to define and is likely due to a variety of factors such as historic unemployment, fear over the virus and mass anger over stay-at-home orders. Public mass shootings have also made an alarming return.

Executive orders allow the president to act without waiting on Congress, where Democrats hold only a razor-thin majority and Republicans generally oppose new limits on firearms. Gun rights, which are protected by the Second Amendment of the Constitution are one of thorniest issues in American politics.

But Biden is limited in his power to act alone. The House passed two bills requiring background checks on all firearm sales and transfers and allowing an expanded 10-day review for gun purchases. That legislation faces strong headwinds in the Senate, where some Republican support would be needed for passage.

In his speech Wednesday, Biden will announce a “zero tolerance” policy — not to be confused with the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration that separated thousands of children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. This one gives no leeway to gun dealers who fail to comply with federal law — their license to sell will be revoked on the first offense.

In the meantime, Biden will also seek increased transparency on gun data and better coordination among states, and he will push Congress for more money for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the agency responsible for enforcing federal gun laws and regulating gun dealers. The Justice Department is also launching strike forces in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to help take down illegal gun traffickers, building on an initiative begun last month.

The rise in violence comes against the backdrop of the national debate on policing and racism in policing — and as a police reform bill is being crafted in Congress. White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday dismissed suggestions that a presidential event focused on cracking down on crime would undermine that legislative effort.

Biden will also meet on Wednesday with state leaders, mayors, a police chief and other experts to discuss ways to make communities around the country safer.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Latest News

More News

Watch Latest Videos

'Tokyo Strong': USA weightlifting's COVID-19 bubble

Old Kindles lose cellular access

The Castle House in St. George, UT

Chris Ardoin shot

Fairview Park boy spreads cheer in community

Carolina Panthers Training Camp Day 2

More News