President Joe Biden announced plans Thursday to create a first-of-its-kind gun violence prevention office at the White House.
The new office will be overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris and led by Stefanie Feldman, Biden’s longtime policy adviser on gun issues. Its creation is a victory for advocacy groups who have pushed Biden for years to designate an office to coordinate gun violence prevention measures across the federal government.
“I will continue to urge Congress to take common-sense steps that the majority of Americans support, like implementing universal background checks and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” , Biden said in a statement. “But in the absence of this much-needed action, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention and the rest of my administration will continue to do everything in our power to combat the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing our families apart, our communities and our citizens. country apart. »
Plans to create the office were first reported by the Washington Post.
The office will play a key role in implementing the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a 2022 law considered the most sweeping gun violence prevention measure in 30 years. Congress passed the law after a gunman massacred 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Greg Jackson, gun violence survivor and executive director of the Community Justice Action Fund, and Rob Wilcox, senior director of federal government affairs for Everytown for Gun Safety, will serve as deputy directors of the office.
The White House announcement comes weeks after the Biden administration proposed rules that would require for-profit gun dealers to obtain federal licenses and complete criminal background checks.
Biden has also taken executive action in recent months. In March, he signed an executive order to increase background checks.
That same month, Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, and Rep. Maxwell Frost, Democrat of Florida, introduced a measure to create an office of gun violence prevention within the Justice Department.
In a statement Wednesday, Murphy praised the White House’s plans for the new office, saying it “will save thousands of lives and strengthen the federal government’s implementation of the bipartisan Safer Communities Act.”
Gun homicide rates reached 5.9 per 100,000 last year and are hovering around 5.22 per 100,000 this year, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.