Gun crime continues to rise steadily in the United States as the country emerges from COVID lockdown.
The US Department of Justice launches a new strike force aimed at cracking down on fire arms trafficking, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said on Tuesday.
The strike force will focus on reducing violent crime by targeting activities in ” arms trafficking corridors, ”including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, DC, Monaco said at an event sponsored by the Police Executive Research Forum.
As part of the effort, Monaco said that the US attorney’s offices in targeted areas will coordinate with federal, state and local law enforcement to focus on “where the guns come from, where they are coming from. are used in violent crimes… and attack the entire network. ”.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that “the department is taking another concrete step to tackle violent crime and illegal gun trafficking. Our anti-gun smuggling forces will investigate and disrupt the networks that funnel criminal weapons into our communities with tragic consequences. “
The Justice Department’s new move comes as President Joe Biden tackles recent spikes in shootings and other violent crime on Wednesday.
As of June 22, the United States had seen 297 mass shootings, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, and local police departments in some major cities across the country have reported spikes in homicides.
Crime on the rise is a critical concern among the general population, especially in large cities. New York City heads to the polls today in the primaries for a mayoral race.
Leading candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties have expressed support for cracking down on crime and increasing police budgets.
Democratic leader Eric Adams, former captain of the New York Police Department, partially blames anti-police slogans, which have resulted in modest cuts to police budgets in some cities.
Adams and others say the “defund the police” movement has undermined law enforcement’s ability to fight crime.
Calls to “fund the police”Have been popular with progressives across the United States, particularly after the murder of George Floyd in custody in Minneapolis last June.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death in April, after a year of protests as part of the larger action Black Lives Matter movement.
But criminologists and crime researchers are not convinced. They say the crime is caused by a myriad of factors. Research Specialist for the Criminal Justice Council Ernesto Lopez told Al Jazeera that crime rates were on the rise in 2020 before the death of George Floyd.
Biden has also launched actions to stifle proliferation “ghost weapons”, which are not sold as assembled firearms, but kits that can be converted into a working weapon and therefore are not subject to the same set of regulations.
Later this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on whether to support confirmation of David Chipman, Biden’s choice to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The department plans to make additional announcements on Wednesday on how it intends to tackle violent crime, Monaco said.