Statue of a overly-large handgun with a knot tied in it by Maria Lysenko on Unsplash
In September of 2023, President Biden established the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to reduce gun violence, which has ravaged communities across the country, and implement and expand upon key executive and legislative action which has been taken to save lives.
The Office of Gun Violence Prevention is overseen by Vice President Harris, who has been a key leader in the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to end our nation’s gun violence epidemic. Stefanie Feldman, a longtime policy advisor to President Biden on gun violence prevention, serves as Director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, alongside leading gun violence prevention advocates Greg Jackson and Rob Wilcox, who join the Administration as Deputy Directors of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
The Office of Gun Violence Prevention builds on historic actions taken by President Biden to end violence in our country; including signing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant legislative action in nearly 30 years aimed at doing so, and taking more meaningful executive action than any other president to make our schools, churches, grocery stores, and communities safer.
The Biden-Harris Administration has worked to implement the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun violence prevention legislation in nearly 30 years. This legislation is already saving lives by keeping guns out of the hands of individuals under 21 who are prohibited from purchasing firearms, empowering the Justice Department with new authorities to prosecute firearm traffickers, improving access to mental health services in our schools to help young people deal with the trauma and grief resulting from gun violence, and investing in community violence interventions.
The Biden-Harris Administration announced dozens of executive actions to: keep especially dangerous weapons and repeat shooters off our streets; hold rogue gun dealers and gun traffickers accountable; provide law enforcement with the tools and resources they need to reduce gun violence; and address the root causes of gun violence.
Most recently, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – a critical leader in work to reduce gun violence – proposed a rule to reduce the number of guns sold without background checks and keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
President Biden continues to call on Congress to take additional action, including by:
- Banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines;
- Requiring safe storage of firearms;
- Requiring background checks for all gun sales;
- Eliminating gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability; and
- Enacting his Safer America Plan, which would put more police officers on our streets for accountable, community policing and invest in gun violence prevention and intervention.
The first thing that comes to my mind is the poem “America is a Gun” by Brian Bilston. It is a powerful poem, and I highly recommend you read it.
NPR reported today (January 19, 2024) that Vice President Harris says young voters could create a “sea change” on the issue of gun violence if they turn out and vote. It is an issue that the Biden campaign says will help motivate a key part of its base of support – and one where it sees Harris as being an effective messenger.
“On this issue, it is a lived experience,” Harris told U.S. mayors in Washington on Thursday, describing what she’s learned from talking to younger people about the gun violence epidemic.
“They are aware of the solutions. And I think, frankly, when they start voting in numbers, we’re going to see a sea change.”
According to NPR, Harris has long been talking about gun violence prevention, dating back to her first position in office as a district attorney in San Francisco. In September, when President Biden created Office of Gun Violence Prevention, he tapped Harris to lead it.
But as focus turns to the reelection campaign, Harris is making gun violence prevention an issue as the brings up all over the country. It even comes up at events that aren’t specifically focused on it.
Last year, for example, she embarked on a tour of college campuses around the country, where her office says she met with more than 15,000 students. And gun violence came up at every stop.
I believe that the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention is going to make a big difference in people’s lives. The existence of this new office evokes the potential of being able to safely walk outside, go to the grocery store, go to school, and/or participate in the religion you have chosen – without being fearful of getting shot in the process. Imagine schools that would no longer have to put children through lockdowns.
Here’s a statement from Vice President Harris:
“Every person and every child deserves the opportunity to fulfill their dreams and live up to their God-given potential. Every family, in every community, should have the freedom live and to thrive. We know that true freedom is not possible if people are not safe.
This epidemic of gun violence requires urgent leadership to end the fear and trauma that Americans experience every day. The new Office of Gun Violence Prevention will play a critical role in implementing President Biden’s and my efforts to reduce violence to the fullest extent under the law, while also engaging and encouraging Congressional leaders, state and local leaders, and advocates to build upon the meaningful progress that we have made to save lives.
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 do not have a moment, nor a life to spare.”