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Biden creates new ATF gun-trafficking ‘strike forces’ in gun control crackdown

President Joe Biden addressed service members at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, May 28, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus M. Bullock)
June 23, 2021

President Joe Biden’s administration announced additional steps it is taking to combat gun violence in the United States on Tuesday, including the formation of five gun-trafficking “strike forces” to stem the flow of guns being moved across state lines.

According to the Department of Justice, the new strike forces will be launched within 30 days “to help reduce violent crime by addressing illegal gun trafficking in significant firearms trafficking corridors” that move guns into New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C.

“As the President has repeatedly said, we are experiencing an epidemic of gun violence in this country. This violence robs us of loved ones and causes life-altering physical injuries,” the White House said in a statement. “It causes lasting trauma, with cascading consequences for children, families, and communities. It steals our freedom, our sense of belonging and security, and has ripple effects for our economy.”

The forces will be a coordinated effort between U.S. Attorneys and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), as well as state and local law enforcement.

“Working with our local partners to tackle violent crime is one of the Justice Department’s most important responsibilities,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in a statement. “Today, the department is taking another concrete step to address violent crime and illegal firearms trafficking. Our firearms trafficking strike forces will investigate and disrupt the networks that channel crime guns into our communities with tragic consequences. This effort reflects our shared commitment to keep communities safe.”

The administration’s efforts also include establishing “zero tolerance for rogue gun dealers that willfully violate the law,” which will result in revocation of gun dealers’ federal licenses.

The administration said the ATF will revoke gun dealers’ licenses the first time they willfully violate federal law, including transferring guns to a prohibited individual, failing to run a background check, falsifying records, failing to respond to an ATF tracing request and refusing to permit ATF to conduct an inspection in violation of the law.

“In addition, ATF will notify every firearms dealer whose license is revoked about how to lawfully transfer any remaining inventory, as well as the potential criminal consequences of continuing to engage in the business of buying and selling guns without a license,” the administration wrote. “The prior Administration stopped this important notification practice that helps deter future unlawful activity.”

Additionally, the Biden administration noted that it will work to strengthen community policing of violent crimes, expand summer programming and employment opportunities for teenagers and young adults, and assist former convicts as they transition back into communities.

“The President continues to call on Congress to take action to end this gun violence epidemic,” the White House statement read. “But he knows we cannot afford to wait a single day while lives are being taken, which is why he has already announced a set of initial actions to prevent gun violence – including toughening regulations on ghost guns and moving historically quickly to nominate a permanent ATF Director – in addition to the steps announced today as part of this strategy.”

The crackdown comes as states across the country pass laws nullifying federal gun laws in their states. In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson signed into law House Bill 85, allowing state gun laws to overrule federal gun laws and making law enforcement liable if an officer violates an Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

“HB 85 puts those in Washington D.C. on notice that here in Missouri we support responsible, law-abiding gun owners, and that we oppose government overreach and any unlawful efforts to limit our access to firearms,” Gov. Parson said in a statement.