White House Rolls Out a Gun Violence Initiative

VP Kamala Harris will oversee the new Office of Gun Violence Prevention
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2023 8:17 AM CDT
Biden Taps Harris to Lead New Anti-Gun Violence Office
President Biden listens as Vice President Kamala Harris speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus on July 25 in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

For the first time, the White House will have an office dedicated solely to fighting gun violence. The Biden administration announced its plans Wednesday on the new office, which Reuters notes will "implement existing laws and work with local authorities to pass gun safety legislation at the state level," according to officials. Biden has appointed Vice President Kamala Harris to oversee the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which will have the help of gun safety advocates who will join his administration.

"I'll continue to urge Congress to take commonsense actions that the majority of Americans support," the president said in his announcement, citing such actions as putting in place universal background checks and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. "But in the absence of that sorely needed action," Biden continued, the new office "will continue to do everything it can to combat the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing our families, our communities, and our country apart." The AP notes that one of the office's first pushes will be to enforce a bipartisan gun safety law passed on the federal level last year after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Stefanie Feldman, who's long served as a Biden policy adviser, will take on the role of the office's director. She'll be assisted by two deputy directors: Greg Jackson, a gun violence survivor who now heads up the Community Justice Action Fund group, dedicated to tamping down gun violence in Black and brown communities; and Rob Wilcox, who was a senior director at Everytown for Gun Safety and had a cousin who was fatally shot. In her own statement, Harris noted that the issue of gun violence requires "urgent leadership," per the White House. Harris added, "We know true freedom is not possible if people are not safe. ... We do not have a moment, nor a life, to spare."

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Shannon Watts, founder of gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action, seemed cautiously optimistic about the plan, which is sure to roil conservative and gun rights groups like the NRA who often push back on gun safety measures, calling them an infringement on Second Amendment rights. "If this announcement is, in fact, the creation of a single point of leadership on gun violence in the administration, it's a very big deal for the movement," Watts tells the Washington Post. Biden and Harris are set to say more on the new office in remarks Friday afternoon from the Rose Garden at 2:45pm ET. (More gun violence stories.)

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