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President Biden, Mayor Adams Discuss How Federal Government Can Help Stop Flow Of Illegal Guns Into NYC

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- President Joe Biden met with elected officials in the city on Thursday and announced federal help to stop the flow of guns into the state.

As CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported, he also wants to enact stiffer penalties for the people who buy and sell illegal weapons.

"It's enough. Enough is enough," Biden said.

WATCH: President Biden, Mayor Adams & Other Leaders Address Gun Violence

The president gave vent to the frustration of New Yorkers, Mayor Eric Adams, Gov. Kathy Hochul, and the families of slain NYPD detectives Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora as he announced new money, new programs, and new resolve to stop the flow of illegal guns into the state, guns that are killing cops and civilians alike.

"Mayor Adams, you and I agree the answer is not to abandon our streets. That's not the answer. The answer is not to defund the police. It's to give you the tools, the training, the funding," Biden said.

READ MOREMayor Eric Adams Addresses NYC Shootings, Bringing Back Reformed Anti-Crime Unit

To that end, the White House announced new public safety initiatives, including:

  • More resources to U.S. Attorneys offices to combat violent crime at the local level
  • A national program to train prosecutors how to move against "ghost guns," guns assembled from kits available on the internet that are not regulated by federal gun laws

"We are sparing no resource in identifying and holding accountable the repeat offenders who are the major drivers of violent crime," Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

READ MORENYC Gun Violence: Retired Detective & John Jay Professor Weighs In On Mayor Adams' 'Blueprint'

The president arrived in New York City at the invitation of Mayor Adams, who has pressed the federal government to establish the kind of joint federal, state, and local task force used to go after terrorism after 9/11. He wants the feds to crack down on what he calls "domestic terrorism."

"The president is here because he knows what the American people want -- justice, safety, and prosperity," Adams said.

But with the upcoming midterm elections, the president faced a careful balancing act in trying to show Republicans he is going after the bad guys while supporting the need for the police reforms demanded by the liberal wing of his party.

READ MOREIn Wake Of Ongoing Gun Violence, Mayor Eric Adams Vows To Keep NYC Schools Safe: 'I'm Going To Protect My Children'

Republicans in New York City cut him no slack, pointing out that just two years ago Biden would never have come to police headquarters to meet with a pro-police mayor.

"That would not have happened in 2020 because in 2020 and 2021 the Democratic party was the party of defund the police. They were the party of anti-police riots. They were the party of clawing back the powers of our criminal justice system," City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli said.

The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee upped the ante, calling on the president to denounce the policies of liberal prosecutors like Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Watch Marcia Kramer's report -- 

New Yorkers are mixed on whether it will make a difference that the president came to New York.

"He doesn't care. It's to save face, make himself look good. That's all it is," Veronica Darden said.

"It's gonna be a real impact because I know the mayor and I know the president, so I hope they come to a good agreement," Harlem resident Adam Wainwright said.

READ MORENYPD Det. Jason Rivera's Widow Criticizes Manhattan DA's Policy Changes During Eulogy

Critics say strategies can't be strictly aimed at targeting guns.

"If we continue to blame this violence on merely just gun violence and not the cultural issue that it is, and not the real problem which is the criminals, which are the criminals that are committing the violent crimes, we're never gonna get anywhere," retired NYPD detective Angel Maysonet said.

CBS2's Dick Brennan asked the mayor if he can achieve his crime-fighting goals when even members of his own party disagree on various issues, including bail reform.

"I'm going to go to Albany, sit down with-- many of them are friends, we just disagree. And because we disagree does not mean we can find a middle ground to tweak, not take away what was in place because my life's work is fighting for reform," Adams said.

Meanwhile, the NYPD saw a nearly 39% increase in the overall crime index last month compared to January 2021. Every major category of crime saw an increase except murder, which fell 15%. Shootings were up nearly 32%.

CBS2's Marcia Kramer contributed to this report. Editor's note: This story was first published Feb. 3.

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