The White House announced it is creating the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to find additional actions President Biden can take to curb gun violence, as well as to implement existing actions.
Biden and Vice President Harris will launch the new office at an event at the White House on Friday, alongside members of Congress, mayors and gun violence survivors. The Hill earlier this week reported that the president would make the announcement on Friday, which comes after gun violence prevention advocates and Democratic lawmakers have been pushing the White House to establish a designated office solely focused on gun violence.
“The president wants us to continue to dig deep and find additional actions we can take,” a senior administration official told reporters, adding that doing so requires additional staff and more coordination with the White House.
Additionally, the official said that the office will focus on implementation of the bipartisan gun control law, which Biden signed last summer, and implementation of the multiple executive actions he has taken.
Harris will oversee the office and Stephanie Feldman, White House assistant to the president, will serve as its new director.
Two gun violence prevention advocates will also join the White House team as deputy directors of the office: Greg Jackson, the head of the Community Justice Action Fund, and Rob Wilcox, senior director of federal government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety.
Feldman told reporters that creating this office is “to accelerate life-saving work.”
“President Biden would be the first to say that we need to do so much more to address this public health epidemic of gun violence,” she said.
As its first priorities, the office will work on getting the federal government to do more for communities devastated by mass shootings, which can lead to long term impact on mental health and the economic well-being of communities.
The office will be funded through the already-appropriated White House budget and it will work with law enforcement and gun violence survivors to help communities.
Jackson’s group, Community Justice Action Fund, and March for Our Lives, which was created following the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in 2019, have been making the push for this type of office. And Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) introduced legislation this year to establish such an office within the Department of Justice.
Biden’s reelection campaign received early endorsements from four major gun violence prevention groups: Everytown for Gun Safety, Community Justice Action Fund, Giffords and Brady.
While the gun violence prevention movement has been supportive of Biden’s efforts on gun control, it considers them to be first steps. Biden acknowledged in June that the bipartisan gun safety bill isn’t “enough.”
The White House has pushed its limits in terms of executive powers to curb gun violence. In its latest move, administration officials are eyeing a Justice Department-led expansion of background checks for gun purchases.
Biden has also consistently called for Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require safe storage of guns, end gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability and enact universal background checks.
Officials on Thursday said that Biden won’t take any attention or energy off of those pushes. But the GOP-controlled House and tight margins in the Senate have made the issues non-starters this Congress.
Source: The Hill