President Biden understands that communities across America have been affected by the surge of gun crime that we’ve seen over the past two years. That’s why last June he put in place a whole-of-government response to make our communities safer, and why he’s bolstering that effort with unprecedented amounts of federal funding and support, including in his FY23 Budget.
The President recognizes that if we want to fight crime and make our neighborhoods safe, we need to invest more money in funding effective, accountable, community policing – not less. His Budget reflects that, including by more than doubling the COPS hiring program. President Biden knows that cities and states need a strong federal partner in fighting gun violence, which is why his Budget also provides critical support for federal law enforcement. That includes money for nearly 300 new Deputy Marshals and other personnel at the U.S. Marshals Service to help local law enforcement apprehend violent fugitives, plus funding that increases the number of Assistant U.S. Attorneys available to prosecute cases by 10%.
Gun crime is a multifaceted problem and requires a holistic response. In addition to putting more cops on the beat and strengthening federal law enforcement, the President’s Budget also makes historic investments in stopping gun violence from happening in the first place. That means giving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) the funding to hire more than 300 agents, investigators, and personnel to build on the Administration’s robust efforts to crack down on the pipeline of illegal firearms used in crimes and take other steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands. And it includes $30 billion in mandatory investments to support law enforcement and crime prevention.
This Budget builds off the historic efforts of the President’s first year. President Biden has made more progress on executive actions to reduce gun violence than any other President during their first year in office. Implementing the President’s comprehensive strategy to reduce gun crime, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is pursuing rulemaking to rein in the proliferation of “ghost guns” – unserialized, privately-made firearms that are increasingly being recovered at crime scenes and can be difficult to trace. DOJ launched five multijurisdictional firearms trafficking strike forces to address the illegal trafficking of crime guns across state lines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made clear that states can use Medicaid to reimburse certain community violence intervention programs; at least two states have now taken up this opportunity. And, the President signed into law the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which will help state and local law enforcement investigate and prosecute cases against individuals who attempt to purchase a firearm even though they are legally prohibited from doing so.These are just a few examples of how the Administration is pursuing a whole-of-government approach to reduce gun crime, which you can read more about here.
The President is also strategically deploying historic funding to reduce gun crime. The Biden Administration made certain American Rescue Plan funding – $350 billion in state and local funding, and $122 billion in K-12 funding – available as unprecedented resources for states and cities to invest in hiring officers for accountable community policing, as well as crime prevention and intervention. The U.S. Department of Labor is funding programs to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter the workforce. And, through a bipartisan Budget deal, the Administration secured an additional $554 million to bolster federal law enforcement capacity, and an additional $126 million for the COPS Office.
President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 Budget calls on Congress to deliver the funding needed to implement the President’s comprehensive strategy to reduce gun crime and make our communities safer. At DOJ alone, the President’s Budget calls for $20.6 billion in discretionary funding for federal law enforcement and state and local law enforcement and crime prevention programs, an increase of 11% over FY22 enacted ($18.6 billion) and 18% over FY21 enacted ($17.5 billion). This funding will fund the police, including by putting more police officers on the beat, and make essential investments in crime prevention and intervention.
Congress needs to do its job by passing this Budget and other essential legislation to reduce gun crime, including legislation to require background checks for all gun sales, ensure that no terrorist can buy a weapon in the United States, ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, repeal gun manufacturers’ protection from liability, and ban ghost guns.
The Budget will make these important investments while cutting the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade and ensuring that no one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay an additional penny in new taxes.
Specifically, the resources requested as part of the President’s FY23 Budget will mean:
- Funding the Police, Including by Putting More Police Officers on the Beat. The Budget provides $1.97 billion in discretionary funding to support state and local law enforcement, an increase of 12% over the FY22 enacted level. That includes $537 million to put more police officers on the beat for accountable community policing through the COPS Hiring Program, an increase of 118% over the FY22 enacted level. The President is also proposing $30 billion in new mandatory resources to support law enforcement and crime prevention. More details will be provided on this mandatory funding in the coming weeks.
- Cracking Down on Rogue Gun Dealers and Traffickers Who Violate the Law. The President is proposing $1.7 billion – a 13% increase over the FY22 enacted level – for ATF to enforce our commonsense gun laws. This funding will be used to:
- Hire more than 140 new agents, intel analysts, and other personnel, including personnel to staff the multijurisdictional gun trafficking strike forces the Justice Department launched last year. These strike forces crack down on significant firearms trafficking corridors like the Iron Pipeline – the illegal flow of guns sold in the south, transported up the East Coast, and found at crime scenes in cities from Baltimore to New York City.
- Hire 160 new investigators to help ensure that Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) and manufacturers comply with the law. These investigators will help carry out the Department of Justice’s new policy – announced last year – of zero tolerance, absent extraordinary circumstances, for certain willful violations of the law by federally licensed firearms dealers that put public safety at risk.
- Adds 16 new positions to provide National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) correlation reviews and training for state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide. The NIBIN database holds millions of digital images of ballistics from crime scenes. A NIBIN search can link seemingly unrelated scenes, thereby making connections and filling in gaps to help law enforcement identify and hold accountable repeat shooters.
- Increases by more than 40% the funding for the National Tracing Center, which more than 8,400 law enforcement agencies across the United States use to trace firearms found at crime scenes. Funding will be used to upgrade technology and hire additional personnel.
- Expanding the Capacity of Federal Law Enforcement to Make Our Communities Safer. Including resources for ATF described above, the Budget dedicates $20.1 billion in discretionary funding for federal law enforcement components and US Attorney’s Offices. These entities work in partnership with state and local law enforcement and communities to combat violent crime through increased prevention activities, intelligence-sharing, and coordinated enforcement efforts. This includes:
- $2.8 billion for the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, an increase of 15% over FY 2022 enacted. This funding will increase the number of attorneys in these offices by 10%, increasing the federal governments’ capacity to ramp up prosecutions of all crimes, including gun crime.
- $1.8 billion for the U.S. Marshals, including funding to hire 195 Deputy Marshals, 280 additional personnel in total to expand the Marshals’ ability to help state and local law enforcement apprehend fugitives.
- $10.7 billion for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including funding for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. That is an 6% increase over FY22 enacted.
- Researching Gun Violence as a Public Health Crisis. The Budget proposes $60 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health to conduct research on gun violence, an increase of 140% over the FY22 enacted level.
- Expanding Community Violence Interventions. The Budget includes $500 million in FY23 for community violence interventions, split between DOJ and HHS.
- Investing in Gun Crime Prevention and Community Violence to Make Our Neighborhoods Safer. The President’s Budget includes $30 billion in mandatory resources to support law enforcement and crime prevention coupled with criminal justice reform. The Administration will announce more details on this initiative in the coming weeks. In addition, the Budget includes significant funding to prevent gun crime by addressing root causes. For example:
- Investing in Employment Programs for At-Risk Youth and Formerly Incarcerated Persons. The President’s Budget commits $75 million to a new National Youth Employment Program. Getting youth into employment sets them on the path toward long-term success. Research shows that summer youth employment programs can reduce youth violent crime by 35% to 43% and lower mortality rates. This program is in addition to the President’s request for almost $1 billion additional dollars for youth employment and training activities through Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act programs, $145 million for the YouthBuild program for at-risk youth, and $150 million in labor programs for formerly incarcerated persons, of which $25 million is specifically targeted to preparing high-risk and justice-involved youth for employment.
- Increasing Housing Choice Vouchers to Help Set Families on a Path to Success. To reduce the cost of housing for low-income Americans, the FY23 Budget provides 200,000 additional housing choice vouchers. Research shows that children who grow up in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and violent crime are more likely to experience adverse childhood experiences, which are known risk factors for later involvement in the criminal justice system. Vouchers improve low-income households’ access to safe, low-poverty neighborhoods, which improve parents’ and children’s well-being and long-term success.
- Expanding Mental Health Support for Formerly or Presently Incarcerated Persons. Untreated trauma and its associated mental health effects may increase the risk of involvement in gun violence. The behavioral health crisis in the United States has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when gun ownership also surged. To help address this crisis, the Budget proposes $56.3 million in funding to HHS to issue grants that would support the provision of behavioral health services to individuals within or during reentry from jails and prisons.
- Promoting Safe and Healthy Schools. The President’s Budget seeks $1 billion for school-based health professionals that can recognize the signs when young people are struggling and help meet their needs before a crisis develops. The Budget also includes $129 million for school safety, which includes funding for Project Prevent, the U.S. Department of Education’s primary school-based community violence intervention program.
- Reducing Domestic Violence and Other Forms of Gender-based Violence. Nearly half of all women killed in the United States are killed by a current or former partner, and half of all intimate partner homicide is committed with a gun. Nearly 1 million women alive today have reported being shot or shot at by intimate partners, and 4.5 million women have reported being threatened with a gun by an intimate partner. The President’s Budget seeks significant increases in funding to prevent and address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. First, the Budget includes $1 billion for programs funded through the Office on Violence Against Women to support Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), an increase of $425 million over the 2022 enacted level. The Budget supports substantial increases for VAWA programs, including the STOP formula grant program that provides critical resources to all states and territories to fund police, prosecutors, courts, and victim services; $12 million for a homicide reduction initiative and a domestic violence lethality reduction initiative; and increased resources to provide legal assistance for victims, transitional housing, and support for culturally specific community-based organizations. Second, the Budget includes $50 million for the Victim Advocate program, which the Office for Victims of Crime will use to fund highly-trained victim advocates in communities experiencing rising levels of violent crime, including gun violence.
The investments above are highlights of the Administration’s proposed investments to reduce gun crime. The Budget will also help reduce other forms of gun violence, including suicide by firearm, which accounts for the vast majority of gun deaths in America. In fact, the President’s FY23 Budget proposes more than $27 billion in FY23 discretionary funding for mental health services. It also includes more than $100 billion over 10 years in mandatory investments that will increase and diversify our mental health workforce, break down cost and other barriers to accessing care and improve insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorder services, and promote resilience and wellness across our environments.