Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday announced a new initiative aimed at curbing gun violence.
Speaking in Albuquerque, N.M., Barr said “Project Guardian” would emphasize stepping up prosecutions for gun crimes, strengthening federal record sharing, and cracking down on people who are banned from purchasing firearms.
The initiative will emphasize shutting off access to guns by people who have domestic violence-related convictions or mental health issues that would put them among federally banned buyers.
“Gun crime remains a pervasive problem in too many communities across America,” Barr said.
The Trump administration and some lawmakers have been looking for ways to respond to a recent spate of mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, among other places.
The alleged gunman in El Paso, for instance, was able to get a gun despite having a history of mental illness.
Other mass shooters should have been barred from buying guns as well, but because of a failure to share data among federal and state agencies, they have slipped through the cracks.
Project Guardian puts emphasis on enforcing existing gun laws on banned buyers as well as sharing more records in the National Instant Check System (NICS), instead of enacting new laws or expanding gun sales that are already covered by federal gun-buyer background checks.
To do that, the plan calls on federal prosecutors to work with state and local authorities to consider new charges in cases where a defendant is believed to have used a gun to commit a crime.
NICS denials based on mental health adjudications “should command the Department’s increased attention and scrutiny,” Barr said.