July 12 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Monday said cracking down on the flow of illegal firearms is a key to ending a surge in gun violence across the United States this summer.
Before meeting with a group of city officials and local police chiefs in a White House roundtable on gun violence, the president told reporters that, while there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to reducing gun crime in cities, some methods are known to work.
"The first of those that work is stemming the flow of firearms used to commit violent crimes," Biden said. "It includes cracking down and holding rogue gun dealers accountable for violating federal law."
The new effort will involve the creation of five new strike forces aimed at illegal gun flows "from New York to the Bay Area," he said.
While urging a crackdown on illegal arms, the president did not address or endorse Democratic Party-backed gun control legislation, which has long been blocked by Senate Republicans.
Another key element in the White House strategy urges states and cities to tap $350 billion in available COVID-19 relief funds to bolster police forces and develop community policing and youth intervention programs.
Biden also touted increased funding for mental health services and housing and job training for formerly incarcerated people returning to society.
The meeting comes amid increasing gun violence across the country at the same time a move to reform policing is continuing.
In late June, Biden announced a "major crackdown" focused on enforcing federal gun laws aimed at gun trafficking. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has set up strike forces zones to combat the problem.
In 2020 homicides were up 30% across the country while gun violence has increased by 8%, government figures show.
Biden was joined by law enforcement officials including Chicago Police Chief David Brown of Chicago and Wilmington, Del., Police Chief Robert Tracy.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams, the current borough president of Brooklyn and a former police captain, were also at the meeting.
Adams campaigned on addressing violence while maintaining civil rights and trust in the police. Shootings are up significantly in New York over the past two years, as they are in many parts of the country.
A shooting and subsequent manhunt in family friendly Times Square in June brought the problem into stark view for many.
Adams praised Biden's stance on limiting access to illegal handguns often used in street violence in the city's metro areas rather than focusing on assault-style rifles.
"This president is making it clear," he told ABC News following the meeting. "He's going to redefine the ecosystem of public safety, and that includes identifying the role of police, schools, families, resources, employment."
Adams won the Democratic primary in late June. He had faced off against runner-up Kathryn Garcia and third-place finisher Andrew Yang, a former Democratic Party presidential candidate.
Adams will face Republican Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels vigilante group, in the general election in November.