President Joe Biden unveiled plans on Thursday to establish an innovative Office of Gun Violence Prevention at the White House. This groundbreaking initiative will be overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris and directed by Stefanie Feldman, a seasoned policy adviser to Biden on gun-related issues. Advocacy groups have long advocated for the creation of such an office to coordinate gun violence prevention efforts across the federal government.
In a statement, President Biden expressed his ongoing support for commonsense measures such as universal background checks and the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. He also emphasized the necessity of addressing the gun violence epidemic in the absence of comprehensive legislative action.
The Office of Gun Violence Prevention will play a pivotal role in implementing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a landmark 2022 law that represents the most significant gun violence prevention measure in three decades. This legislation was enacted in response to a tragic mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers lost their lives.
To support the mission of the new office, Greg Jackson, a gun violence survivor and the executive director of the Community Justice Action Fund, and Rob Wilcox, senior director of federal government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, will serve as deputy directors.
This announcement follows the recent proposal by the Biden administration to establish rules requiring for-profit firearms dealers to obtain federal licenses and conduct criminal background checks. Additionally, President Biden has taken executive actions to enhance background checks.
Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Rep. Maxwell Frost of Florida introduced a measure in March to create an Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the Justice Department. Senator Murphy praised the White House’s decision to establish this new office, stating that it will save lives and bolster the federal government’s implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
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Firearm homicide rates, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reached 5.9 per 100,000 last year and remain at approximately 5.22 per 100,000 this year.