Major City Leaders Head to the White House to Discuss Gun Reform, Relief Funds

Major city leaders and law enforcement officials will meet with President Joe Biden Monday to discuss ways to reduce gun violence.

The sit-down will include Brooklyn Borough President and New York City mayoral hopeful Eric Adams; Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser; and San Jose, Calif., Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Also in attendance will be police chiefs from Chicago; Memphis, Tenn.; Wilmington, Del.; and Newark, N.J. Attorney General Merrick Garland will join Biden and local leaders for the talks.

"The president will discuss the work the federal government is doing to stem the flow of guns used in crimes, including the administration's zero-tolerance policy for dealers who willfully sell guns illegally," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing just before Monday's meeting.

Psaki said the discussion will focus on how cities can use funding from the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package passed in March, to boost public safety. The legislation devoted $350 billion to state and local governments.

"He'll underscore his commitment to ensuring their state and local law enforcement have the resources and support they need to hire more police officers and invest in effective and accountable community policing," Psaki added.

Monday's meeting comes amid a surge in shootings across the country.

More than 10,700 people—a number that includes those who have been victims of homicides and unintentional shootings—have been killed this year as of July 12, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.

Last year was the deadliest year of gun violence in decades, with the total number of gun-related fatalities being 19,402.

City Leaders Go to WH Gun Violence
President Joe Biden will meet with city leaders Monday to discuss ways to reduce gun violence. Pictured, Biden speaks during an East Room event on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan at the White House July 8, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong

Administration officials sent a memo Monday to state and local officials encouraging them to use COVID-19 relief funds to improve public safety. The memo also highlighted proposals from different cities on how they to spend the money.

One example was from Washington, D.C., which plans to use $59 million from the American Rescue Plan to add more slots to the Metropolitan Police Department cadet program, bolster youth safety initiatives, create temporary safe housing for residents involved in gun violence, and more.

"We know that the rise in violent crime over the last 18 months is a complex and multi-dimensional challenge for communities around the country, and that it requires a comprehensive response," the memo read. "And we know that cities and states need a strong partner in the federal government to get that done. That's why we've been heartened to see communities moving already to use the funding in the Rescue Plan to bolster public safety."

Newsweek reached out to the press offices of Adams, Bowser and Liccardo for comment ahead of the meeting, but didn't receive a response before publication.