Jun 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

DOJ launches effort to combat gun trafficking

A police officer holds a gun at a gun buy-back event.

Guns are displayed on a table during a gun buy-back event in Staten Island on April 24, 2021. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday its plan to combat illegal gun trafficking in five U.S. cities by creating a new firearms trafficking strike force.

The big picture: The announcement comes as President Biden is expected to discuss a broader crime-fighting strategy Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Between the lines: Law enforcement officials will seek to interrupt the flow of guns illegally brought into New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C., places where officials say a substantial portion of guns used in crimes come from elsewhere, per the WSJ.

  • The strike forces will be led by U.S. Attorneys who will coordinate with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and with state and local law enforcement partners.

What they're saying: "Working with our local partners to tackle violent crime is one of the Justice Department’s most important responsibilities,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a press release.

  • “Our firearms trafficking strike forces will investigate and disrupt the networks that channel crime guns into our communities with tragic consequences," Garland said.

Driving the news: Murder rates have been trending up over the last year in large and small U.S. cities, Axios' Bryan Walsh reports.

  • A sample of 37 cities with data available for the first three months of 2021 collected by the crime analyst Jeff Asher indicates murders are up 18% over the same period in 2020.
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