Biden to announce first-ever federal office of gun violence prevention

President Joe Biden will announce the creation of the first-ever federal office of gun violence prevention on Friday, fulfilling a key demand of gun safety activists as legislation remains stalled in Congress, according to two people with direct knowledge of the White House’s plans.

Stefanie Feldman, a longtime Biden aide who previously worked on the Domestic Policy Council, will play a leading role, the people said.

Greg Jackson, executive director of the Community Justice Action Fund, and Rob Wilcox, the senior director for federal government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, are expected to hold key roles in the office alongside Feldman, who has worked on gun policy for more than a decade and still oversees the policy portfolio at the White House. The creation of the office was first reported by The Washington Post.

Since Biden’s election, gun groups have called on him to take this action, which activists see as a concrete step beyond his unanswered pleas for an assault weapons ban and universal background checks. Activists have argued that such an office will help the administration coordinate on gun policy issues across the federal government, while also allowing the president and Vice President Kamala Harris to show leadership on the issue.

“I really think this is a testament to survivors, impacted communities, pushing for years the administration to do this,” said one of the people with direct knowledge of the plans, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss details ahead of the announcement.

The White House, Everytown and Community Justice Action Fund did not respond to a request for comment.

Since taking office, the president has taken a slew of executive actions, and his administration has invested in community violence intervention. And following back-to-back shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas, in 2022, the White House worked with a bipartisan coalition in Congress to pass the first gun legislation into law in nearly three decades. That deal, signed by Biden in June 2022, toughened background checks for young gun buyers, helped states implement red flag laws and kept firearms from more domestic violence offenders. The following month, the Senate confirmed the first director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms since 2013.

Nevertheless, there have been 504 mass shootings in which four or more people were injured or killed during 2023 alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Gun safety groups have pressed Biden to focus on the implementation of the hallmark gun legislation, and have argued that such an office would help with coordination across federal agencies.

“A White House office of gun violence prevention would build on the already tremendous record of President Biden and Vice President Harris on gun safety,” said Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords. “This has been a top priority of ours for years, and it would provide an important center of gravity for leadership across the administration as the President and Vice President implement the historic Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and continue to push Congress to pass legislation to save lives. The hiring of Greg and Rob would show how seriously this administration takes its responsibility to address this crisis.”

The timing of Biden’s announcement comes as his presidential reelection campaign ramps up. The new office will present an opportunity for the president to point to his action on gun safety at a time when Congress is unlikely to pass additional legislation, potentially increasing enthusiasm among key voting blocs, including young people.

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