Congressman Joe Morelle calls for federal intervention to address gun violence across Rochester community

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WHEC) — Congressman Joe Morelle called on the United States Department of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday to take immediate action to address the surge in gun violence in Rochester. Rep. Morelle urged collaboration across all levels of government and outlined steps the Department of Justice must take to protect families in the Rochester community.

“As we contend with tragic mass shootings across the country, we’re also facing an epidemic of neighborhood gun violence in our own backyard. The rise in violence is senseless, it’s heartbreaking, and it demands an all-hands-on-deck response,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “We need to leverage every available resource to tackle this issue. My colleagues and I are continuing to advance common-sense gun reforms, but it takes more than legislation alone—which is why I’m calling on the Department of Justice to lead a coordinated and collaborative multi-agency response that brings people together so we can start saving lives.”

In 2021, the number of homicides in the city of Rochester rose to a record of 81—the highest count in two decades. So far this year, 31 homicides have already been recorded, putting us in line with last year’s record. A recent report from Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Public Safety Initiatives found that no other city’s per-capita homicide rate increased as quickly as Rochester’s in the past two years. Nationwide, there have been more than 200 mass shootings already this year, including recent tragedies in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Tulsa.

Congressman Morelle is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland to build on the success of last year’s VIPER Taskforce and lead a coordinated, collaborative response to help effectively protect our community.

That includes:

• Directing resources to support a collaborative, multi-agency approach to law enforcement;
• Accelerating grant awards for state and local law enforcement, including the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program;
• Prioritizing federal prosecutions of unlawful firearm possession and trafficking and improving information sharing among the different federal and local law enforcement agencies;
• Providing additional funding for communities most impacted by violence.

Earlier this week, Congressman Morelle chaired a Rules Subcommittee hearing on action to address gun trafficking, featuring testimony from Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter. The hearing highlighted legislation Congressman Morelle authored to strengthen regulations on gun shops and prevent stolen weapons from flowing onto our streets.