Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown’s grassroots networks, lauded actions announced by President Joe Biden as he heads to New York City with Attorney General Merrick Garland, to stand alongside leaders from New York, including New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayors Against Illegal Guns member New York City Mayor Eric Adams. While leaning in on federal, state, and local law enforcement partnerships to crack down on gun violence and gun trafficking, the President gave particular focus to ghost guns, the fast growing gun safety threat in the country. He committed to vigorously enforce a forthcoming federal rule that will stop the proliferation of ghost guns through a new Ghost Gun Enforcement Initiative that will prioritize federal charges against those who commit crimes with ghost guns, new training for prosecutors on how to handle ghost gun cases, and the designation of regional ghost gun leads around the country.
“President Biden and Attorney General Garland have been steadfast in supporting law enforcement’s work to crack down on illegal guns, and this announcement is yet another example of that,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “When it comes to reining in ghost guns, delay equals death, so we applaud the Administration’s push to regulate ghost guns like all other guns. All of these efforts, however, would benefit from a strong, Senate-confirmed director at ATF to finally lead the agency into the 21st Century.”
“President Biden and his Administration continue to show that stemming gun violence and its root causes is key to public safety, including through supporting community violence intervention programs,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “The grassroots gun violence prevention movement is encouraged to see the Biden-Harris Administration’s consistent focus and work pulling together all levels of government and coordinating with leaders on the ground to end gun violence and save lives.”
President Biden and others plan to visit a local public school to discuss the importance of community policing and community violence intervention. Today’s announced actions continue to show the President’s commitment to local violence prevention and intervention strategies. The President is calling on Congress to reach an agreement on Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations that includes $200 million in dedicated grant funding for community-based violence intervention programs. While continuing to support the $5 billion in dedicated funding that was in the Build Back Better Act, the administration is making progress through existing funding options, including resources available through the American Rescue Plan and 26 existing grant programs.
The President also focused on addressing the illegal guns that move through the “Iron Pipeline” and prioritizing the prosecution of unlicensed dealers who sell guns without a background check. Everytown’s analysis of gun trace data shows the significant impact of interstate gun trafficking: over the past five years, approximately a third of the one million guns recovered in crimes crossed state lines, the vast majority originating in states that lack fundamental gun safety laws.
Last year, when the Biden-Harris Administration proposed the ghost gun rule, Moms Demand Action volunteers and Everytown for Gun Safety supporters drove nearly 100,000 comments in support of it. The proposed rule would update the definitions of “firearm” and “frame or receiver” to cover kits and components easily assembled into untraceable ghost guns. Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers have also been at the forefront of getting states and cities to pass laws and ordinances to address ghost guns through direct advocacy and testimony. Eleven states and Washington, D.C. now have ghost gun laws on the books, with Delaware, New York, Nevada and a number of California cities taking action most recently.
The Administration has made increasing available funding for violence intervention programs one of its top priorities, repeatedly issuing guidance allowing state and local entities to use American Rescue Plan and other federal dollars for violence intervention programs. Last year, Everytown hosted White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond, Reps. Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Steven Horsford (D-NV) and gun safety advocates on a press call to make the case for a historic $5 billion investment in community violence intervention programs in the Build Back Better Act, which is still pending in the Senate. That proposed funding would be a targeted investment of $5 billion in America’s most impacted communities. Earlier last year, during a landmark Rose Garden address while citing Everytown Support Fund’s Economic Cost of Gun Violence report, President Biden announced historic investments in violence intervention programs to combat the gun violence epidemic. As part of the announcement, five agencies made changes to existing federal funding streams across 26 programs to direct vital support to these programs as quickly as possible.
Just last week, New York City Mayor Adams announced a new blueprint to end gun violence across the city. The plan included increased funding for violence intervention programs and hospital-based violence intervention, partnering with New York State Police to expand efforts to thwart illegal gun trafficking, expanding the city’s summer youth employment program, and supporting Governor Hochul in the interstate Gun Tracing Consortium, as well as calling for federal action to reduce gun violence. The announcement from Mayor Adams — who is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns — came just after Governor Hochul announced her Executive Budget proposal, including $224 million in gun violence prevention funding.