White House Plans Crackdown on Gun Trafficking

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Attorney General Merrick Garland is launching gun trafficking strike forces in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. to reduce spiking gun violence by addressing illegal trafficking and prosecuting offenses that help put guns in the hands of criminals, reports the Associated Press. The effort will include stepped-up enforcement in so-called supply areas, cities and states where it’s easier to obtain firearms that are later trafficked into other cities with more restrictive gun laws, and embrace intelligence sharing and prosecutions across jurisdictions. Authorities have also embedded federal agents in homicide units of police departments across the U.S., have been deploying additional crime analysts and are conducting fugitive sweeps to arrest people who have outstanding state and federal warrants for violent crimes. Justice officials say the strike forces are targeted prosecutions meant to be a longer-term effort to combat gun trafficking.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports the Biden administration plans to ratchet up prosecutions of small-level “straw” buyers of weapons that are later transported to major cities and used in crimes. Firearms trafficking is not typically the work of large, coordinated criminal enterprises, but, instead, in small-scale operations, illicit gun dealers find individuals to buy weapons, then hand them over to be resold to criminals out of town or out of state. While such straw purchases are illegal, it is often difficult to prove the initial gun buyers deliberately lied on their paperwork, allowing them to avoid prosecution. Going forward, U.S. attorney’s offices and ATF agents will seek to prosecute more straw purchases.

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