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Biden heads to New York City to urge funding to combat gun violence

Meetings with police and community groups will focus on where the administration wants $500 million in funding

President Joe Biden hosted a White House meeting about reducing gun violence in July.
President Joe Biden hosted a White House meeting about reducing gun violence in July. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden plans to use meetings Thursday with police and community violence intervention groups in New York City to urge Congress to put $500 million more to combat gun violence into a fiscal 2022 spending package.

The trip comes as top Democratic and Republican appropriators have met this week to address the spending levels and policy riders that have stymied talks for months. The current government funding stopgap expires Feb. 18.

In the afternoon, Biden and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland will join Mayor Eric Adams at a meeting of the city’s Gun Violence Strategic Partnership, which meets five days a week to share intelligence and form strategies for stopping people repeatedly involved in gun violence, according to the administration.

Biden will then go to a New York City public school to meet with groups that work both at the school and in the community to reduce gun violence.

New York City is one of many cities across the nation to face a spike in gun crime since the start of the pandemic, a senior administration official said Wednesday evening, and these two groups are great examples of the strategies Biden wants to expand nationwide — and why congressional funding can help.

The Biden administration wants Congress in fiscal 2022 to include a $300 million increase in a Justice Department grant program that goes to hire community police officers, and $200 million for local gun violence prevention programs.

Biden also has called for $5 billion for those local programs and funding was included in a sweeping $2 trillion social safety net and climate package that has stalled in the Senate. The White House remains committed to that investment, the official said.

“You’re going to hear the president reaffirm the call for that funding,” the official told reporters Wednesday night. “But even as we await those additional appropriations, we’re acting.”

The Biden administration plans to announce other new actions to combat gun violence Thursday, such as an initiative to prioritize enforcement against so-called ghost guns, kits that allow the buyer to finish a firearm that does not have a serial number to track.

The administration already has proposed rules aimed to stop ghost guns and to restrict stabilizing braces that can make pistols more like rifles.

And the administration previously has announced changes to federal programs that emphasized direct work with individuals in racially segregated, high-poverty neighborhoods where a spike in homicides has been the worst.

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