Tomorrow, at a Rose Garden event, President Biden will announce the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which will be led by Vice President Kamala Harris. The office will serve to expedite implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the President’s previous executive actions.
The office will help coordinate federal funding for community violence interventions and craft grant programs and policies. There is a great need for mental health support, and the White House believes there is promise in a coordinated effort across the White House to help deploy these mental health services.
This new office announcement comes as the president and other gun safety advocates are stymied by Congress’ refusal to pass reasonable gun laws, even as the country faces a growing crisis in gun violence. The figures of Pew are staggering: “In 2021, according to the CDC, 54% of all gun-related deaths in the US were suicides (26,328), while 43% were homicides (20,958). The remaining firearm deaths that year were accidental (549), law enforcement-related (537) or had undetermined circumstances (458).
“I will continue to urge Congress to take common-sense actions that the majority of Americans support, such as establishing universal background checks and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. But in the absence of that much-needed action, the Office for the Prevention of Gun Violence, along with the rest of my administration, will continue to do everything we can to combat the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing apart our families, our communities, and our country. apart,” President Biden said in a statement to PoliticusUSA.
The president “has spent countless hours out of the public eye with families who have lost loved ones to gun violence, whether in Monterey Park, in Buffalo and Uvalde, or in the Oval Office. He hears their message that we must do more. He also hears that young people across the country are demanding a world where they don’t have to live in fear of gun violence. The president hears them, he agrees with them, and he acts,” White House aide to the president and staff secretary Stefanie Feldman said Thursday on a call with reporters ahead of the announcement.
“The Vice President feels the urgency of this issue with every family she grieves, and with students across the country who are fighting for their right to be saved from gun violence. The Vice President has interacted with students and when she asked the crowd how many people should participate in elementary school shooting drills, hundreds of guns went into the air,” said Deputy Assistant to the President and Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President . Kristine Lucius said during the phone call. “Our young leaders know we must do more to prevent what is the number one killer of America’s children.”
A senior administration official said early priorities for the new office will include “implementation of the bipartisan and Safer Communities Act and executive actions already announced,” as they want to ensure “we realize the benefits of this from the new law and the new actions” and “Second: be very creative and find out within the existing authority what additional executive actions we can possibly take.”
Additionally, they plan to use the office to coordinate federal support for communities and individuals affected by gun violence.
For those wondering if anything will change, the mandate they have from the President is to do more and find additional action they can take to work with states and cities to pass additional gun safety laws and their to support intervention against violence in the community, and also to provide support afterwards. mass shootings, which they say have a long-lasting impact on the mental health and economic well-being of communities.
For example, the Office will seek to convene state leaders to move additional state legislation across the finish line. Examples of what this could look like when implemented include working with state legislatures and governors to address state laws that prohibit states and law enforcement agencies from responding to the enhanced background checks now in effect.
The vice president was chosen to lead the office because of her background in state and local government as San Francisco district attorney and attorney general of California. Harris has met thousands of students during her field trip, and students cite gun violence as a top priority at every stop.
Stefanie Feldman will join the new office as director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, as will Greg Jackson and Rob Wilcox, who will serve as deputy directors of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention. Greg Jackson has led one of the nation’s leading community violence prevention organizations.
This office and new staff members will be funded each year from White House appropriations. The Bipartisan Safer Community Act includes funding to ensure states take advantage of these red flag laws.
President Biden will continue to urge Congress to act and pass a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, legislation requiring the safe storage of firearms, and background checks for all gun sales.
It is unclear at this time if any Republicans will attend the event.
“Our promise to the American people is this: We will not stop working to end the epidemic of gun violence in every community because we have no moment and no life left,” Vice President Harris said in a statement shared with reporters on the press call.