AUSTIN, Texas - The city of Austin will be playing a part in the Biden administration's effort to address gun violence.
The Biden administration released a 5-part strategy to address rising gun violence nationwide on Wednesday. According to the White House, the Comprehensive Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gun Crime and Ensure Public Safety will focus on five main goals:
- Stem the flow of firearms used to commit violence, including by holding rogue firearms dealers accountable for violating federal laws
- Support local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to help address summer violent crime
- Invest in evidence-based community violence interventions
- Expand summer programming, employment opportunities, and other services and support for teenagers and young adults
- Help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities
Cities will now be able to redirect allocated COVID-19 relief funds from the American Rescue Plan towards these strategies.
"If you willfully sell a gun to someone who’s prohibited from possessing it, if you willfully fail to run a background check, if you willfully falsify a record, if you willfully fail to cooperate with inspections my message is this, we’ll find you and we will seek your license to sell guns and we’ll make sure you can’t sell death and mayhem in our streets," said President Joe Biden while unveiling the plan.
The announcement came about a week after 27 mayors, including Austin Mayor Steve Adler, sent a letter to the federal government asking for more action to reduce gun violence.
The letter stemmed in part from four mass shootings that occurred in a six-hour period, one of which happened on Sixth Street.
"I am really appreciative the federal government is stepping forward to do what it can do and to get additional resources to cities like Austin so that we can develop new things and cities can act as the incubators of innovation in terms of trying to deal with this challenge," said Mayor Adler.
Additionally, Austin was listed among 15 cities that the federal government will collaborate with to support community violence intervention programs. The Biden administration will meet with the leaders of these 15 cities for further discussion on implementing new strategies.
"I know there’s a lot we can learn from those other cities," said Mayor Adler.
Chas Moore with the Austin Justice Coalition agreed with the goal of preventing rather than reacting to violence but was wary about more funding potentially going to police departments.
"Hopefully the Biden administration will be able to work with community folks who actually do this kind of work and get as much insight from them as possible," said Moore.
According to data from APD, Austin has seen a steady rise in gun violence over the last five years. As of Wednesday, there have been 39 homicides in Austin in 2021.