WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will meet with New York City Mayor Eric Adams Thursday to discuss combatting gun crime just weeks after two NYPD officers died in the line of duty.
Biden’s visit comes amid deepening national concern over public safety and recent attacks on police officers. Adams and other New York officials are asking for several changes, including federal assistance in curbing the flow of guns into the state.
The president, who will be accompanied by Attorney General Merrick Garland, will speak “about the steps the administration has taken so far to reduce crime, gun crime, and how we can be a strong partner for New York City and other cities grappling with increased gun violence,” press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul will also be in attendance for the president’s visit.
Biden’s visit comes on the heels of the first police fatalities in New York City in 2022 and amid broader concerns about a nationwide rise in homicides.
Officers Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera were shot in Harlem last month after they were called to respond to a domestic disturbance. Rivera, 22, died the night of the shooting. Mora, 27, was taken off life support last week. In total, five NYPD officers were shot in January, including Mora and Rivera.
Adams, a retired police officer sworn in last month as older, last week unveiled a plan to combat gun violence following the attacks on NYPD officers. As part of his strategy, Adams calls for reestablishing controversial anti-crime police units, alleviating a backlog of gun cases in the court system and addressing root causes of violence through all city agencies.
Do not ‘surrender’:Major Eric Adams lays out gun violence plan after NYPD officers killed
“New Yorkers feel as if a sea of violence is engulfing our city,” Adams said in a speech announcing his strategy. “But as your mayor, I promise you, I will not let this happen. We will not surrender our city to the violent few, and we won’t go back to the bad old days.”
On Thursday, Biden, alongside Garland, Adams and Hochul, will meet at the New York Police Department headquarters to “discuss the work that federal, state and local law enforcement officials are doing to quickly take guns and repeat shooters off of our streets,” Psaki said.
More:Police attacked in at least 5 states in about a week. Are officers being targeted?
The group will then visit with community violence intervention leaders in Queens to discuss community-led work to address gun violence.
Between 2019 to 2020, the United States murder rate rose 30%, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year. At the same time, there has been a large jump in firearm sales since the start of the pandemic, with Americans buying more guns in 2020 and in 2021 than in previous years.
Lauren-Brooke Eisen, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Programsaid that economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, interruption of family life and services such as after school programs, and increased isolation have contributed to an increase in violent crimes.
“The last couple of years’ increase in violent crime is something we shouldn’t downplay,” Eisen said. “But we also need to keep in mind this backdrop, which is that crime is still nowhere near where it was in the late 80s and early 90s.”
Biden last year released a comprehensive plan to tackle gun crime, which included funding to cities through the American Rescue Plan — the COVID-19 stimulus package passed last year — to add more police officers to local departments and to support community violence intervention programs. In addition, the Department of Justice last year launched gun trafficking forces to help reduce firearms violence.
More:‘I can’t believe the numbers’: Mass shootings, homicide rates, gun sales hit highest levels since 1990s
Despite these efforts, only 36% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of crime, according to an ABC News/Ipsos Poll released in December. In addition, just 32% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of gun violence.
Eisen said Biden should stress that the increase in violence that cities like New York is a side effect of the pandemic, but that he is “committed to safe communities.”
“It’s important that he rejects fear mongering and really stresses that a world of public safety with a more humane criminal legal system is one that’s attainable and something that he’s committed to helping provide,” she said.
Contributing: Ryan W. Miller
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism