Attorney General Merrick Garland will head to Chicago on Thursday in an effort to demonstrate the Biden administration’s commitment to curbing gun violence in the city, multiple media outlets are reporting.
Garland is returning to his hometown to launch a firearms trafficking strike force in the city.
In June, he had announced the plan for strike forces in Chicago, as well Los Angeles, Washington, New York and San Francisco, according to Politico.
The Associated Press reported the new effort includes bolstering enforcement in so-called supply areas where it is easier to obtain firearms that are then trafficked into other areas with gun laws that are more restrictive.
“We are redoubling our efforts as ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) works with law enforcement to track the movement of illegal firearms used in violent crimes,” Garland said in a statement. “These strike forces enable sustained coordination across multiple jurisdictions to help disrupt the worst gun trafficking corridors.”
Gun violence has gripped Chicago. At least 10 people were shot in Chicago on July 14 in two separate incidents.
“Mass shootings are becoming the norm,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a longtime crusader against gun violence, whose church is about a half-mile from one of the shootings.
And Politico reported that last weekend, 56 people were shot in Chicago – 11 of them fatally.
The outlet noted shootings in Chicago have seemed out of control in Chicago for years.
Meanwhile, Politico pointed out that the effort to reduce gun violence is politically important to President Joe Biden. The White House is concerned that liberal activists, calling for “defunding the police,” could lead to perceptions that Biden isn’t doing enough to curb violence in the cities.
“The goal of this coordination effort is to disrupt the entire trafficking network, from the place where guns originate, where they travel through other jurisdictions, to the places where they’re ultimately used to commit violent crime,” said one Justice Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “This is not a short-term infusion of resources. Rather, it’s a long term coordinated, multi-jurisdictional strategy to ensure that disrupting these trafficking patterns remains a priority as long as necessary to address the problem.”
The Chicago Sun-Times said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is expected to meet with Garland while he is in the city. And on Friday, Garland is set to meet with federal law enforcement and prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office.