President Joe Biden will send a “strike force” to Chicago, Illinois, to help curb the city’s shocking spike in violence — but the “strike force” will be focused on “gun trafficking” and not specifically on crime prevention.
Fox News reports that Biden is sending “strike forces” into several major cities — Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. — in order to help officials in those cities “crack down on illegal gun trafficking,” even though it is not clear that “illegal gun trafficking” is directly responsible for spiking crime.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot discussed the “strike force” plan after meeting briefly with Biden on the tarmac at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport last week.
“My hope and my expectation is that they’re going to be coming relatively soon. I’ve made no secret of the fact that this is a matter of incredible urgency and I think the president’s plan is to make a difference in localities like Chicago this summer,” she said.
“The strike force teams will coordinate with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and share information with local and state law enforcement agencies about where firearms originate and where they are used to commit crimes in an effort to bring down gun-dealing rings,” Fox added.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the plan in June, though, at the time, the Department of Justice had not decided on which cities would receive a targeted strike force of federal agents. Garland did, however, make clear that the strike forces would focus on illegal guns and the so-called “iron pipeline,” which carries handguns and other weapons from states with lax gun laws to states with strict gun laws.
“Working with our local partners to tackle violent crime is one of the Justice Department’s most important responsibilities,” Garland said in a June statement announcing the program. “Today, the department is taking another concrete step to address violent crime and illegal firearms trafficking.”
Officials in New York state, Fox News noted, have complained that the “iron pipeline” supplies criminals in New York City; Chicago’s Mayor Lightfoot claims that sellers in Indiana are supplying criminals in Chicago and that Chicago suburbs have “very lax gun laws,” that allow criminals to purchase weapons and traffick them back into the city.
Those problems, however, predate the current crisis. And unlike many major cities, where the number of shootings is still lower than it was in 2020, Chicago appears to be facing a more violent 2021.
The “strike force” also does not address what Lightfoot claims to be a primary driver in violence: racism.
Speaking to the city’s public television station, WTTW, Lightfoot claimed that the “violence is a manifestation of systemic problems, and it’s a public health crisis. When you see, in way too many neighborhoods, a lack of jobs, a lack of investment — these are historic, decades-long problems.”
“At least 1,600 people have been shot so far in Chicago in 2021 — an 11% increase compared to 2020 and a 58% increase compared to 2019, according to the Chicago Police Department’s crime statistics for the week ending June 28,” Fox News noted. That number includes around a dozen children and at least 36 police officers.
Lightfoot, notably, refused then-President Donald Trump’s offer of federal assistance to help curb the city’s violence in 2020, though she did allow then-Attorney General William Barr to assist with breaking up organized crime rings that were also dealing in stolen weapons.
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