Specialized strike forces from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives targeting gun traffickers seized more than 7,700 guns and silencers associated with crimes in the past year in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, New York and San Francisco, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday.
Speaking alongside newly confirmed ATF Director Steve Dettelbach, Garland applauded the ATF’s role in quickly identifying shooters in high-profile cases over the past year, including the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois; the April 2022 mass shooting on the New York subway system; and targeted killing of homeless people in New York and Washington.
The announcement comes amid a wave of crime and mass shootings in some parts of the United States, and less than a month after President Joe Biden signed into law the first major federal gun safety legislation passed in decades.
The Department of Justice has ramped up its efforts to address violent crime this summer, announcing earlier this month that US Marshals arrested more than 1,500 fugitives in June as part of a targeted effort in cities struggling with high crime rates.
Since July 2021, the ATF has conducted over 600,000 firearm traces as part of its investigations, Garland said.
Asked about the prevalence of gun trafficking in American cities, Garland said the principal driver of gun violence is illegal guns through illegal trafficking networks.
Last year, the Justice Department launched joint strike forces involving federal, state, and local agencies, with the goal of disrupting illegal firearms trafficking in five key regions across the country.
According to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, most of the public favors stricter gun laws, with more than 4 in 10 saying that recently enacted gun legislation doesn’t go far enough to change things.
In June, Biden told reporters that, “It’s time the states and the localities spend the money they have to deal with crime, as well as retrain police officers, as well as provide for more community policing.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the agency that made arrests as part of a targeted effort in June.