President Joe Biden announced plans Thursday for the White House to establish a first-of-its-kind office of gun violence prevention.
The new office will be overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris and led by Stefanie Feldman, a longtime policy adviser to Biden on gun issues. Its creation is a win for advocacy groups that have been pushing Biden for years to designate an office to coordinate gun violence prevention measures across the federal government.
“I’ll continue to urge Congress to take commonsense actions that the majority of Americans support like enacting universal background checks and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” Biden said in a statement. “But in the absence of that sorely-needed action, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention along with the rest of my Administration 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.”
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 that’s considered the most sweeping gun violence prevention measure in 30 years. Congress passed the legislation after a gunman massacred 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Greg Jackson, a gun violence survivor and the executive director of the Community Justice Action Fund, and Rob Wilcox, Everytown for Gun Safety’s senior director of federal government affairs, will be deputy directors of the office.
The White House announcement comes weeks after the Biden administration proposed rules that would require for-profit firearms dealers to obtain federal licenses and conduct criminal background checks.
Biden has also taken executive action in recent months. In March, he signed an executive order to increase background checks.
The same month, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Rep. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla., introduced a measure to create an Office of Gun Violence Prevention at 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.”
According to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearm homicide rates hit 5.9 per 100,000 last year and are hovering around 5.22 per 100,000 this year.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com