(PresidentialInsider.com)- With polls showing that people are frowning on how he’s handling crime, President Joe Biden is working on a plan to try to crack down on dealers of firearms and curb crimes involving guns.
The plan the White House announced this week would allow local municipalities and states to tap into relief funds set aside for the pandemic program to hire more police officers. Biden said this could be done in certain circumstances so police departments would have additional resources to combat the massive increases in armed robberies, shootings and assaults.
Biden also announced he may pursue measures that may expand summer employment programs for teenagers, help for people who are being released from prison find employment and “zero tolerance” rules for dealers of guns. The president said he may go about some of these measures with executive action.
It’s quite the change of approach for the leader of the progressive party that has, at times, called for police departments to be defunded.
At the White House, Biden said Wednesday:
“We have the opportunity to come together now, as Democrats and Republicans, as fellow Americans, to fulfill the first responsibility of a government in a democracy: to keep each other safe.”
Officials with the Biden administration said there was an increase of 30% for murders in large cities in 2020, along with an 8% increase in assaults with a gun. The official said some of the reasons for those spikes were gun laws that aren’t strict enough as well as isolation people are feeling due to the pandemic.
Increasing crime is proving to be an increasing problem for Democrats, as they look to hang onto control of both chambers of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.
A May poll conducted by Yahoo News/YouGov found almost 50% of people said crime in the U.S. is a “very big problem.” Only 36% of participants said they “somewhat approved” of how Biden was handling crime, and another 44% said they “somewhat disapproved.”
That has continued to fuel Republicans saying that Biden and Democrats have been way too easy on crime. They’ve specifically said Biden hasn’t done enough to push back against the progressives in his party who want to undo law enforcement agencies around the country.
For his part, the president has said continually that he doesn’t support defunding police departments.
Instead, he has focused on trying to get Congress to pass stricter gun control, which includes repealing a liability shield gunmakers have and banning assault weapons.
Biden’s plan includes five main pillars, and while he was hoping for a police reform bill to be passed by May, that time has come and gone.
Republican Senator Tim Scott, who’s been involved in these talks heavily, said it was “June or bust” for an agreement on the matter to be made.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Biden can continue to push for a reduction in crime while also discussing reforming police. She said:
“Communities across the country who advocate and support police reform, they don’t see it as a mutually exclusive issue; neither does the president.”