President Joe Biden met with federal, state and local law enforcement leaders Monday to discuss his strategy for reducing gun violence in America, a plan that focuses on providing more resources for local police. Critics, though, still see it as federal overreach.
In major cities across the country, Washington included, gun violence is up about 25% from last year, and nearly 50% from two years ago. President Biden said it's a multi-faceted problem that he intends to combat.
"While there's no one size fits all approach," the President said at the start of the meeting Monday afternoon, "we know there are some things that work."
Those things, the President explained, include:
• Stem the flow of firearms used to commit violence
• Support local law enforcement with federal resources
• Invest in community violence interventions
• Expand summer programming and employment opportunities
• Help ex-cons successfully reenter their communities
"This is gonna help prevent crime and support young people to pick up a paycheck instead of a pistol," the President commented.
The strategy is being criticized by Republicans, who have honed in on the aspects of the plan that could be seen as restricting gun rights and say those measures will only hurt law-abiding citizens. Oklahoma Senator James Lankford said the increase in crime is actually rooted in the Democrats' own actions.
"If you’re going to deal with crime in America," said Lankford, (R) OK, in a recent interview, "one of the biggest issues that happened last year was this constant push towards defunding the police."
The President's strategy, however, does not call for a decrease in funding for police. On the contrary, it encourages states to use a portion of the $350 billion contained in the American Rescue Plan for state and local governments to hire more police officers.
Also contained in the President's strategy is an expected effort by federal law enforcement to crack down on rogue gun dealers and a ban on the use of pistol braces with certain handguns.
Sen. Lankford said pistol braces are commonly used by disabled veterans and thus the President's plan, if enacted, would automatically criminalize many of them, if they didn't discard the items or obtain an exemption.
"There’s no evidence that were seeing crimes occur because of pistol braces," Lankford said. "That’s not solving the crime issues in America."
Some analysts believe the increase in gun violence could at least in part be tied to an increase in gun sales. Last year, according to published reports, Americans bought 23 million guns, a 66% increase over 2019.