FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced plans to help combat gun violence across the country.
Part of those plan includes targeting law-breaking gun dealers, provide federal resources to police departments and allow communities to repurpose Federal Coronavirus Relief Funding for programs to prevent gun violence. Now WANE 15 is learning more about how the plan will impact police departments across Northeast Indiana.
After speaking with the White House, WANE 15 has learned no police departments in our area will receive extra funds from the plan. That money will be designated to larger cities like Chicago, Baltimore and New York.
However, the plans allow local governments to reallocate COVID-19 funds. Both county and city leaders say that Fort Wayne and Allen County does still have funds available.
The city of Fort Wayne is receiving $50.8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. Half of the funding has arrived and the other half will come to Fort Wayne in 2022. The funds must be utilized by the end of 2024.
Allen County is set to receive $73 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.
While Biden did state the COVID-19 funding would be used for programs to prevent gun violence, the stipulations for how exactly how local governments can use that money has yet to be announced.
For decades local and state lawmakers have been trying to pass new gun laws. And while we won’t see the immediate change from Biden’s plans, one former Fort Wayne mayor and current professor say this is the step in the right direction.
Over the past year, President Joe Biden says the United States has seen a drastic rise in gun violence. According to the White House, the number of homicides in the first quarter of 2021 was 24% higher than the number of homicides in the first quarter of 2020 and 49% higher than in the first quarter of 2019.
Now with plans to crack down on law-breaking gun dealers, many are hoping changes to the laws are not far behind. While we won’t see the immediate change from Biden’s plans, former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke says this is the step in the right direction.
“I don’t think people realize how serious an issue this is,” Helmke said.
Helmke is currently a professor at the Indiana University in Bloomington and former head of the Brady Center for Gun Violence.
The center was founded in connection with the passing of the Brady Law in 1993 which required gun dealers to do a background check on a person looking to purchase a gun. In 1994 Helm-Key, then-Mayor supported the crime bill.
“One of the things that did was get more cops on the street for communities like Fort Wayne,” Helmke said. “I think if there’s support for what President Biden announced yesterday there might be some follow up that could help communities like Fort Wayne to get more funds to be able to deal with gun trafficking.”
Only time will tell if and what laws will change with America’s federal gun laws. Helmke says that both Republicans and Democrats will need to come together to fix the issues at hand before they get worse.