WASHINGTON — Today in Chicago, Attorney General Merrick Garland launched gun trafficking strike forces in five major cities to help stem the rising murder rates in cities across the country. The strike forces were first announced by President Joe Biden, Attorney General Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco in June, and represent a major federal prioritization of curbing city gun violence, helping to coordinate federal, state and local law enforcement, and a focused effort to crack down on rogue and criminal gun dealers that are the source of illegal guns. The new Department of Justice initiative is launching in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, New York, and the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento area.
“President Biden and Attorney General Garland continue to meet rising summer gun violence with the action Americans need,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “These task forces will provide critical federal resources to local law enforcement officials in cities around the country to help stem illegal gun trafficking and violent crimes being committed involving guns.”
“The gun violence epidemic is fueled in large part by easy access to firearms, which is why this crackdown on illegal purchases and trafficking is so critical and ultimately will help save lives,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “The Biden-Harris Administration continues to show why they’re the strongest on gun safety in a generation by taking actions like this to address the root causes of gun violence.”
Chicago has long served as a Republican “boogeyman” when it comes to gun violence in cities even though the data shows that the majority of illegal guns recovered in Chicago originate outside Illinois. The announcement comes as the city of Chicago, represented by Everytown Law, is suing Westforth Sports, Inc., a Gary, Indiana gun store alleged to have sold hundreds of illegal guns trafficked into Chicago. Westforth is alleged to be engaged in the exact type of illegal conduct by gun shops that President Biden spoke of in his CNN town hall last night. The lawsuit alleges that the store repeatedly broke federal gun laws and ignored clear signs of straw purchases and gun trafficking, contributing to a public nuisance in Chicago, including in connection with dozens of sales in 2020 that resulted in federal criminal charges against the straw purchasers. The suit alleges that in the face of unmistakable indicators of illegal gun sales – including high volume, repetitive, and multiple-sale transactions involving duplicate or near-duplicate firearms – Westforth chose time and time again to look the other way and to falsify transaction forms, becoming a trusted source of firearms for traffickers and straw purchasers.
This is the strongest gun safety administration in history, as evidenced by President Biden’s historic executive actions to address gun violence, his long record of taking on the NRA and passing life-saving laws, Vice President Kamala Harris’ years of gun safety advocacy, and the unmatched gun sense cabinet they have built. President Biden has prioritized gun safety since entering office, from combating deadly, untraceable ghost guns, to the Department of Justice’s development of a strategy on reducing violent crime and a new, annual comprehensive report on firearms trafficking, to the new comprehensive strategy to address gun violence that includes efforts to fight gun trafficking and investments in community violence intervention programs. His administration’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2022 also included $200 million to a new community violence intervention program as a part of historic investments in gun safety.