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President Joe Biden announces 'major crackdown' on illegal gun sales, violence

President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a major crackdown on illegal gun sales and gun violence in the United States. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI
President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a "major crackdown" on illegal gun sales and gun violence in the United States. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

June 23 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden said that his administration will implement a "major crackdown" on illegal gun sales as he unveiled a plan to slow the increase of gun violence in the United States on Wednesday.

Biden announced the plan including gun control measures, support for law enforcement and helping formerly jailed individuals re-enter society amid an increase in homicides in the country and an expected rise in violence in the summer months.

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"We are announcing a major crackdown to stem the flow of guns used to commit violent crimes," he said. "It is zero tolerance for those who willfully violate key existing laws and regulations."

Biden's plan aims to hold "rogue" firearms dealers responsible for violating federal gun laws, give law enforcement resources to address traditional summer increases in crime, invest in community violence interventions, support unemployment and youth programs, and assist initiatives that help formerly incarcerated people successfully re-enter the community.

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Biden said he would make it so that such "rogue" dealers "can't sell death and mayhem on our streets."

"If you willfully sell a gun to someone who is prohibited from possessing it, if you willfully fail to run a background check, if you willfully falsify a record, if you willfully fail to cooperate with the tracing requests or inspections, my message to you is this. 'We will find you and we'll seek your license to sell guns.'"

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President Joe Biden's administration said it will begin community violence intervention programs in more than a dozen locations to provide financial and other support to stem disturbances related to gun violence.

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The plan would also task the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with addressing the flow of weapons used in violent crimes as Attorney General Merrick Garland said the agency will launch five new cross-jurisdictional law enforcement strike forces within the next 30 days focused on trafficking to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

ATF would also equip states with gun dealer licensing data, create a firearms trafficking strike force, ban homemade "ghost guns," and call on state lawmakers to manage gun dealers and post data regarding the frequency and outcomes of dealer inspections publicly.

In the largest U.S. cities in 2020, homicides increased by 30% and gun assaults by 8%, according to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice. While the commission said homicide rates slowed in the first quarter of 2021, they were still higher than the first quarter of past years -- 24% higher than 2020 and 49% higher than 2019.

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"As the president has repeatedly said, we are experiencing an epidemic of gun violence in this country," the White House said in a statement. "This violence robs us of loved ones and causes life-altering physical injuries. It causes lasting trauma, with cascading consequences for children, families, and communities."

Gun violence has also risen significantly in the United States in 2021 after a year affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Several people have been killed in mass shooting attacks in a number of cities so far this year, including Atlanta and Boulder, Colo., in March and San Jose, Calif., last month. Each of the attacks prompted Biden and Democratic lawmakers to call on greater measures to control gun violence.

Biden on Wednesday acknowledged that gun violence may continue to increase at a greater rate during a spike typically experienced in the summer.

"Crime historically rises during the summer. And as we emerge from this pandemic with the country opening back up again, the traditional summer spike may even be more pronounced than it usually would be," he said.

Biden's plan would further provide funds to hire more police officers and invest in community programs that work directly with communities most affected by gun violence.

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Cities identified by the White House for community intervention include Atlanta; Austin; Baltimore; Baton Rouge, La.; Chicago; Detroit; Los Angeles; Memphis; Minneapolis; Newark; Philadelphia; Rapid City, S.D.; the Seattle area; St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

The president said that he would "never give up hope" that Congress can pass a ban on assault rifles as he called on lawmakers to pass bipartisan gun reform.

"We have an opportunity to come together now as Democrats and Republicans, as fellow Americans to fulfill the responsibility of government in our democracy, to keep each other safe," he said.

Mourners gather in San Jose after mass shooting

Relatives of Paul Megia, who died in Wednesday's shooting, mourn at a memorial vigil for the nine slain transit workers in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

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