Questions about the urban crime wave reached the White House today, when reporters asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki what the Biden administration intends to do about the increasing violence nationwide.
Fox News' Peter Doocy asked about Biden's feeling that "a great deal of the crime we're seeing is a result of gun violence," noting that "the stats show it's not just gun crimes. So why does the president think there's been a 30 percent increase in car thefts in DC, 47 percent increase in robberies in New York City, or a 98 percent increase in rapes in Atlanta?" These are all cities with Democrat leadership.
"Well," Psaki explained, "first, I think if you look at a number of cities across the country it is actually driven by gun violence." She listed off cities where gun violence is a problem and discussed their rates of homicide, without addressing the question of additional violent crimes.
"Take St. Louis," she said, "96 percent of homicides where the instrument is known were committed using a fire arm. New York City, from March 2020 to March 2021, shooting incidents have jumped 77 percent. The city recorded more than 1,500 shootings in 2020, 97 percent more than 777 in 2019."
The mayor of St. Louis in May stated that she wanted to defund the police department and close the local jail while the city's murder rate was the nation's highest. St. Louis had 87 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2020.
"There are major cities across the country where gun violence is absolutely the driver, where it is absolutely increasing. And that will be a central part of what he'll talk about when he delivers his remarks tomorrow."
Doocy followed up with a question about cash bail. The ending of cash bail has been a BLM talking point for well over a year. In New York City, cash bail was eliminated in February 2020, just before the massive increase in crime.
"Given everything that is going on—with guns, without guns—does the president think this is the best time to end cash bail?" Doocy asked.
"I don't think I have any new position on that for you but I'm happy to check and see if there's anything more to report," Psaki said, attempting to move on.
"So," Doocy jumped in, bringing up the statement from Biden's website about his intention to lead a national effort to end cash bail, and reform the pre-trial system. "What does the president think would be a deterrent to committing a crime if there is no cash bail in place?"
"Well," Psaki said again, "let me give you a sense to the degree I can because we're still finalizing the specifics. There's been one, an increase in violence crime over the last 18 months, it's not just over the last few months, and actually if you look statistically back it's actually over the last five years or so. So there's an initial set of actions the president has announced to date to address gun violence back in April."
Psaki listed those items off, namely removing so-called ghost guns, or DYI guns that can be made from gun kits purchased online, which do not have serial numbers. Banning stabilizing braces that make guns easier to shoot, investing in community violence interventions and investment into community policing, and "helping state and local governments keep cops on the street." She didn't mention Biden's intentions to enact "red flag" laws across the country, which make it possible for individuals to report on others who they feel should not be in possession of a firearm.
"You just said again," Doocy asked, "you guys want to keep cops on the beat, but there are reports that big cities are having a very difficult time recruiting officers right now, and there are many other reports that morale is at an all-time low in big police departments. So why does the president think there's low morale with police officers on the beat?"
Psaki said, "I don't think we're the right entity to give a report on that," and suggested that Doocy speak to local police departments about it. "What I would say to you," Psaki said, "is that the president has never supported defunding the police. He has always supported community policing programs," and she intoned the American Rescue Plan, which also injected money into states and municipalities for "community policing" as part of its aggressive $1.9 trillion spending plan.