President Biden is establishing a new White House office focused on gun violence prevention. This move aims to coordinate the administration’s efforts to address gun violence, even as legislative gun reform appears unlikely in Congress. Gun-control activists have long advocated for such an office, viewing it as an essential step in tackling the issue.
The new office is expected to be announced at the White House, with Rep. Maxwell Frost, the first Gen Z member of the House of Representatives, introducing President Biden. Frost, along with Sen. Chris Murphy, has introduced legislation to create an office of gun violence prevention within the Justice Department. Both lawmakers have personal connections to the issue, with Murphy being a leading advocate for gun control since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, and Frost’s involvement stemming from his experience as a high school student during the same tragedy.
The office’s expected leader is Stefanie Feldman, currently the White House staff secretary, who has worked on policy matters with President Biden for over a decade. Activists hope that this office will enable President Biden to use his presidential platform to advocate for more gun safety measures.
The establishment of a White House office focused on gun violence prevention has garnered praise from advocates and activists, including David Hogg, co-founder of March For Our Lives. Hogg, who became a gun control advocate after the Parkland school shooting in 2018, noted that there has been a shift in American politics regarding gun-related issues, with Democrats now embracing the issue and running on it.
Gun violence prevention became a significant part of the Democratic campaign playbook during the 2018 midterm elections, marking the first time that gun control groups outspent gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association. President Biden has called for “common-sense” gun regulations and an assault-style weapons ban, although these measures face opposition from some Republicans and a minority of Democrats.
Advocates argue that President Biden’s announcement of the new office demonstrates his willingness to take unilateral action on an issue important to young voters. They believe this move is crucial in energizing the younger voting bloc ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
This announcement also follows the White House’s introduction of a new Climate Corps job training program, which aims to appeal to younger Americans. David Hogg emphasized that Biden needs the support of young voters to secure his reelection, particularly younger voters of color who played a critical role in his 2020 election victory.
Public opinion regarding gun control has shifted over the years, with a growing emphasis on addressing gun violence. Po Murray, a resident of Sandy Hook and chair of the Newtown Action Alliance, welcomed the reports of the new White House office focused on gun violence prevention. Her organization was founded after the deadly 2012 shooting in her town.
Murray stressed the need for a dedicated White House team to address gun violence daily, considering it a national crisis. She believes that President Biden is on solid ground with public opinion, as a majority of Americans now prioritize curbing gun violence over protecting gun rights, according to a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Murray sees gun control as a winning issue for the president, both politically and morally.