President Joe Biden sat down with Mayor Eric Adams and community leaders last week to speak about the persistent gun crisis in New York City and how to use federal resources to cut off the flow of guns onto the streets.
“Mayor Adams, you say that gun violence is a sea fed by many rivers,” said Biden at the meeting. “Well, I put forward a plan to dam up some of those streams. You can count on me to be a partner in that effort.”
As a result, the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice are creating a gun trafficking strike force in the city and cracking down on the “Iron Pipeline,” or the illegal path of guns sold in the South and then transported up the coast. The DOJ plans on prioritizing federal prosecutions of unlawful gun sellers through “multi-jurisdictional task forces targeting interstate firearms trafficking.”
They are also launching a National Ghost Gun Enforcement Initiative. Ghost guns are especially difficult to control because they are self-assembled, homemade guns that are virtually untraceable and can be purchased with no background check. Under the currently outdated interpretation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ federal gun laws, even people who can’t legally own a firearm can buy parts for a ghost gun, making it a “weapon of choice” for gun traffickers.
Senator Robert Jackson, who sponsored a bill for harsher penalties for major firearms traffickers, said that despite “stringent” gun laws in New York, there are still weapons coming in. This past Sunday he held a gun prevention rally with community members, electeds, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in Manhattan.
“The bottom line is that we need to cut off the pipeline,” said Jackson. “Ideally what we need is federal law to have strict gun sale enforcement in our country. As you know, there’s more guns in this country than we have people.”
Public Advocate Jumanne Williams in a statement said that he was “grateful” the president was paying attention to the public safety and the gun violence epidemic. He said that collaboration across city, state, and federal government is vital to address local gun violence and gun trafficking.
“It sends an important signal for the president to use this visit to meet not only with law enforcement, but with community organizations doing the work on the ground of preventing violence and saving lives,” said Williams.
Biden also highlighted New York City as a national model for tackling gun violence and called on Congress to approve an additional $500 million nationwide in resources for community intervention, government partnerships, and assistance to local law enforcement.
“Many of those guns, such as the one used to strike down two heroes, Detective Rivera and Detective Mora, are weapons of war,” said U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries in the meeting. “They’re not used to hunt deer. They’re used to hunt human beings. That’s not acceptable.”
Last year, Jeffries said he advocated for $5 billion for Break the Cycle legislation in the Build Back Better Act to reduce community violence. The legislation, which passed the House in November, would fund community-based policing and violence interruption programs.
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams added, in a statement, that the increase in violence was multifaceted, necessitating a multipronged solution. She promised that city council’s policies would align with federal public safety goals. “The recognition that both the NYPD and violence prevention programs are essential pillars of our public safety infrastructure is equally important,” said Speaker Adams.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w