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White House to announce strategy to tackle gun violence amid sharply rising crime

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will present his plan on Wednesday to deal with the spike in gun violence that has hit cities across the country in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The President’s strategy will focus on five key areas: stemming the flow of firearms used to commit acts of violence; provide more resources to law enforcement; invest in interventions against community violence; expand summer programs and employment opportunities, especially for young people; and helping those formerly incarcerated to reintegrate into their communities.

As part of Biden’s plan, the Treasury Department will issue new guidelines on Wednesday that make it clear that communities facing increased gun violence in the wake of the pandemic can use the $ 350 billion in state and local funding included in the plan. the US bailout to hire more law enforcement officials and purchase equipment that would allow law enforcement agencies to better respond to gun violence.

The Treasury Department will also share guidance on how US bailout funds can be used to expand summer camp programs, mental health services, food aid, job placement programs and other social services that help prevent crime.

Biden will also call on local officials to use US bailout funds to invest in community violence interventions – which aim to reduce gun violence by connecting people to economic and social programs – and establish a network of local governments to work together to share the best practices.

“This is a historic amount of funding that the President is making available to cities and states through the US bailout to invest in a range of tools to reduce gun violence in their communities and to make their communities safer, ”an administration official told reporters. a call.

An officer collects evidence at the scene where an 8-year-old girl was shot dead in the 1000 block of North Monticello Avenue on August 11, 2019 in Chicago.Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune / TNS via Getty Images File

The official said it would be up to states and local governments to determine how to spend the funds allocated under the US bailout, meaning some communities may choose to invest the money only in hiring employees. more police.

“The president is giving these cities unprecedented resources through the US bailout to invest in tools they believe make sense in their communities,” the official said.

Biden’s announcement comes as crime in the country has risen sharply and Republicans were quick to portray the president as soft on the issue. The FBI doesn’t release full crime statistics until September, but criminologists’ estimates show a 30% increase in homicides last year, with another 24% increase earlier this year.

The president’s speech also comes as he faces pressure from some Democrats and advocates to make police reform a legislative priority after George Floyd, a black man, was murdered by a police officer last summer. White. During his presidential campaign, Biden vowed to tackle police reform, but lawmakers on Capitol Hill have so far been unable to reach agreement on a bill.

As part of Biden’s strategy to tackle crime, the Justice Department will announce a new policy that will allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to revoke the license of arms dealers the first time they violate federal law, such as handing a gun to an unauthorized person, failing to complete required background checks or falsifying records.

The Justice Department will also make more resources available to state and local law enforcement, such as FBI agents and tech tools, as they prepare for an increase in crime typically seen over the years. summer months.

Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland will welcome Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Rapid City, SD, Mayor Steve Allender and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, among other stakeholders, to the White House on Wednesday for a meeting on crime.

The President and Attorney General will also speak on the administration’s gun crime prevention strategy at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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