The Biden administration on Friday announced the creation of the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to help address the systemic issue of gun violence in America.
The new office will be overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris and aims to coordinate efforts across federal agencies to advance and implement gun safety measures.
“Every time I’ve met with families impacted by gun violence as they mourn their loved ones, and I’ve met with so many throughout the country, they all have the same message for their elected officials: ‘do something,’” President Biden said in a statement. “That’s why I’m announcing additional steps forward.”
Biden’s announcement comes amid a surge in gun violence in recent years. In 2023 alone, 506 mass shootings have already occurred in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as an incident where four or more people are injured or killed.
Since Biden took office, gun violence prevention groups have implored the White House to create an office like this. They argued that a designated office would help coordinate efforts across the federal government to reduce gun violence.
Friday’s announcement is just the latest example of the Biden administration’s efforts to address gun violence in the United States.
Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law in 2022, the most significant gun violence prevention legislation in nearly 30 years. Republican opposition has prevented further legislation, but the president has issued dozens of executive actions to try and keep dangerous weapons and repeat shooters off the streets, hold rogue gun dealers and gun traffickers accountable, and more.
Most recently, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives proposed a rule to reduce the number of guns sold without background checks.
In announcing the office on Friday, Biden also reiterated his call for Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and require safe storage of firearms.
Biden also called on Congress to pass his Safer America Plan, which invests in gun violence prevention and intervention, as well as modernizing technology and data systems to ensure that the justice system runs efficiently and with the most current data.
Shannon Watts, founder emerita of Moms Demand Action, a group working to stop gun violence, told The Washington Post that the creation of an Office of Gun Violence Prevention is “a significant turning point” for the gun safety movement.
“This new, single point of leadership on gun violence in the administration is a very big deal for the gun safety movement,” she added on Twitter. “For years, activists and survivors have advocated for a centralized team dedicated to coordinating federal and state resources and mobilizing movement partners.”
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