As negotiations continue in Congress over gun safety reform, Attorney General Merrick Garland and other law enforcement officials announced on Monday a “significant firearms trafficking enforcement action.”
This action comes as a bipartisan group of senators announced a deal on Sunday on a framework that includes funding for states to implement red-flag laws, as well as school safety and mental health programs. The proposal, though noteworthy, falls short of the tougher steps long sought by President Biden and many Democrats.
During the Justice Department's press conference on Monday, Garland spoke of the recent mass shootings that have occurred across the country and emphasized the Justice Department’s commitment to “doing our part to end the plague of gun violence,” while also voicing his support for the bipartisan Senate gun safety proposal, calling the proposal “meaningful progress.”
“As our agents and prosecutors work to get crime guns out of our communities, we are also committed to doing everything we can to support the bipartisan gun safety negotiations,” he said.
Garland outlined the Justice Department’s efforts to crack down on gun trafficking which include setting up “strike forces” to disrupt the trafficking networks, as well as instructing federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents to prioritize prosecutions of those who are responsible for gun violence.
“The Justice Department is leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to protect communities from violent crime,” said the Attorney General. “We are cracking down on the criminal gun trafficking pipelines that flood our communities with illegal drugs.”
Garland cited a recent indictment of an individual in the Northern District of Texas who bought at least 92 firearms and illegally sold them to others.
”The defendant purchased at least 92 firearms, primarily handguns, from federally licensed firearms dealers,” said Garland. ”Law enforcement recovered 16 of the firearms in incidents including homicide, aggravated assault, and drug trafficking.”
This case is just one example of the efforts of Justice Department is taking to protect communities from violent crime, said the Attorney General.
Garland took the moment to draw attention to the “critical role” that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) plays in battling gun violence.
But, as Garland pointed out, the ATF is currently without permanent leadership as the White House awaits Senate confirmation of President Biden's nominee, Steven Dettelbach.
“The ATF needs permanent leadership to continue carrying on that fight,” said Garland. “We urge the Senate to act swiftly to confirm the President's nominee.”
At the end of the briefing, Attorney General Garland was asked about the House Select Committee's probe into the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol; the panel held its second public hearing earlier Monday.
"I am watching, I will be watching all of the hearings,” he said. “I may not be able to watch all of it live, but I'm sure I will be watching all of it, and I can assure you the January 6 prosecutors are watching all of the hearings as well."