US President Joe Biden held a meeting with a group of mayors and police chiefs from across the country at the White House, where they discussed actions that could be taken to tackle the surging gun violence crimes.
Also at the meeting held in the Roosevelt Room on MOnday was Attorney General Merrick Garland, with whom Biden said he had spent “a long time” on curbing gun-related violence, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Most of my career has been on this issue,” the President claimed at one time during the meeting.
Biden said that the purpose of the meeting was to hear from local officials about what things have worked in their communities.
He then went through his own approach, highlighting measures including stemming the flow of firearms, cracking down and holding gun dealers accountable for violating current law, and using the Department of Justice to crack down on illegal gun trafficking.
Biden stressed the importance of supporting local law enforcement, highlighting funding through his $1.9 trillion ‘American Rescue Plan’ and talked about hiring police and paying them overtime, and investing in community policing.
“We know when we utilise trusted community members and encourage more community policing, we can intervene before the violence erupts.”
The President also talked about the importance of mental health programs and job training for young people, saying authorities should “support young people to pick up a paycheck instead of a pistol”.
In addition, assisting those who have been incarcerated to re-enter communities by means of providing housing and job support is another area that federal, state and local governments could work on, he said.
“If somebody gets out of jail right now after serving time, they get a bus ticket and 25 bucks, they end up under the same bridge they left. We know this will help.”
Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo were among the participants of the meeting, along with police chiefs of the cities of Memphis, Chicago, and Wilmington, among other officials and violence experts.
Shootings and killings have been on the rise nationwide, with local politicians and police struggling to grapple with the skyrocketing incidents since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Through the first 172 days of 2021, gun violence killed 9,420 Americans, an average of 55 people a day, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Most recently, the organisation had reported that 189 people were killed and 516 were injured in more than 540 shootings over the three-day weekend during the Fourth of July celebrations.
A push for Congress to pass police reform legislation, meanwhile, has continued on more than one year after the brutal killing of black man George Floyd by a white former police officer.
The Biden administration had unveiled a new national strategy on tackling gun violence on 23 June, announcing measures including combating the illegal transfer of firearms; increasing funding for local law enforcement; investing in fact-based community violence interventions; expanding summer programming; employment opportunities and other services and supports for teenagers and young adults; as well as helping formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter their communities.