NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Following several shocking gun violence incidents this year, President Joe Biden announced his efforts to crack down on untraceable guns with the help of state and local law enforcement during a visit to New York City.
“If you commit a crime with a ghost gun, not only your state and local prosecutors are going to come after you, but expect federal charges and federal prosecution, as well,” Biden said.
Biden and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland met with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and other New York lawmakers at the New York Police Department’s headquarters Thursday.
The group discussed plans to work more closely with police and communities to stop the surging bloodshed.
“The answer’s not to abandon our streets, that’s not the answer. The answer’s to come together, with police in communities building trust and making us all safer,” Biden said at Thursday’s event.
Adams, who often calls himself “the Biden of Brooklyn,” also backed the president’s commitment.
“The president is here because he knows what the American people want: Justice, safety and prosperity, and they deserve every bit of it. And he wants to end the gun violence in our city and in our country,” Adams said.
But Biden’s crimefighting strategy relies heavily on buy-in from state and local officials as he suggests ways to spend federal dollars and expands on initiatives already under way. The modest initiatives demonstrate the limits to what he can do when there is no appetite in Congress to pass gun legislation.
The visit gave the president a chance to push back against Republicans who claim he’s soft on crime, and to distance himself from those in the left flank of his Democratic Party who want to shift funding away from police departments to social spending programs.
“The answer is not to defund the police,” Biden said. “It is to give you the tools, the training, the funding to be partners, to be protectors and know the community.”
Biden ticked through how 316 people are shot every day and 106 killed, including 26 children who died in gun violence so far this year.
Biden’s visit to New York comes on the heels of two police funerals in less than a week, and six cops having been shot in New York City this year alone. A baby girl struck in the face by a stray bullet while in her car seat, as well as the shooting deaths of two campus officers at Bridgewater College in Virginia, are just a few of the tragedies putting the issue of gun violence in the spotlight again.
According to the New York Police Department, shooting incidents increased by more than 45% in January of this year compared to last year. In 2021, 200 more guns were taken off the streets than in the year before.
Getting ghost guns off the street, like the one that killed NYPD officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora while they were responding to a domestic dispute, is one key initiative the Justice Department announced Thursday, as well as shutting down the iron pipeline of illegally trafficked guns flowing into the Northeast.
A college student was accused of that just last month after selling 73 firearms they had brought from Tennessee to an undercover officer in New York City.
Biden is also directing U.S. attorney’s offices nationwide to increase resources dedicated to district-specific violent crime strategies, similar to one Adams is implementing in his city.
Once the meeting ended, Biden went to a school in Queens to hear firsthand from a frontline violence intervention community group about efforts to prevent violence.