Gun violence remains a pressing concern for the United States, with over 500 mass shootings and a reported estimate of 25,000 victims in 2023 alone. In response, the Biden-Harris administration has announced a significant step forward in curbing this crisis. President Biden has introduced the inaugural White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, dedicated to implementing crucial executive and legislative measures to save lives and heal communities.
The office will be under the stewardship of Vice President Kamala Harris, perhaps the administration’s most vocal advocate against gun violence. Stefanie Feldman, a long-serving policy advisor on gun violence prevention, will take the reins as the director. Joining her are gun violence prevention advocates Greg Jackson and Rob Wilcox, who assume the roles of deputy directors.
“Every time I’ve met with families impacted by gun violence as they mourn their loved ones they all have the same message for their elected officials: ‘Do something,’” Biden said. He highlighted the importance of recent legislative strides and executive actions but stressed that they represent the initial required phase.
The White House noted that Feldman, the new director of the inaugural office, brings a wealth of experience. Over more than a decade, Feldman has been a stalwart member of Biden’s team, officials noted. Her journey includes instrumental contributions following the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
Further, Greg Jackson, appointed deputy director, brings his own profound experience as a gun violence survivor. As a Community Justice Action Fund leader, he has tirelessly advocated for gun violence prevention, shedding light on its disproportionate impact on marginalized communities.
Additionally, Rob Wilcox, also assuming the role of deputy director, has a distinguished background in advocating for gun safety measures. Wilcox’s artwork is a tribute to his cousin Laura, a victim of gun violence, and it draws inspiration from personal loss.
The White House said the establishment of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention builds on the historic actions already taken by Biden. This includes signing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a landmark piece of legislation aimed at preventing gun violence.
Officials insisted that efforts to implement the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act have yielded tangible results. They pointed out that the legislation has increased the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute firearms traffickers, restricted access to firearms for those under 21, and increased mental health support for victims of gun violence.
The Biden-Harris Administration also noted they’ve introduced many executive actions to address the root causes of gun violence, including measures to curb the proliferation of dangerous weapons, hold rogue gun dealers accountable, and provide law enforcement with essential resources.
Biden has advocated for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, mandated safe storage of firearms, universal background checks, and an end to gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability. His Safer America Plan also proposes increased investment in community policing and gun violence prevention.
“This epidemic of gun violence requires urgent leadership to end the fear and trauma that Americans experience every day,” Harris said. The vice president affirmed the administration’s unwavering commitment to a safer nation, pledging that “no effort would be spared in achieving this goal.”
White House invites Tenn. Democratic leaders to announcement on gun violence prevention
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tennessee was well represented at the White House event where President Joe Biden announced the creation of a federal office on gun violence prevention. Tennessee Senate minority leader Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, and Rep. Harold Love, D-Nashville, will be in attendance along with Tennessee House minority leader Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis.
Sen. Akbari and Rep. Love issued a joint statement applauding President Biden’s action:
“President Joe Biden’s decision to establish the first-ever federal office of gun violence prevention is a promise kept and a crucial step towards addressing the pressing issue of gun violence in our nation, particularly in states like Tennessee.
“For a decade, Tennessee’s controlling party has made it easier for criminals to get guns and shootings have skyrocketed.
“After a crushing state special session on gun violence where no action was taken, this announcement is welcome news for Tennesseans who want new approaches to stop future shootings. Tennesseans deserve better than what they’re getting from our state government, so we are thrilled to play a part in this announcement and we look forward to helping this office realize its potential.”
The office will coordinate efforts across the federal government and will offer help and guidance to states struggling with increasing gun violence, while taking the lead on implementation of the bipartisan gun legislation signed into law last year.
The latest annual state health data shows that gunshot wounds were the leading cause of death for children in Tennessee. But the crisis of gun violence is not limited to minors.
According to the CDC, the rate of firearm homicides in Tennessee has increased 120% over a decade—an increase that mirrors the GOP’s repeal of gun safety laws. Tennessee now ranks seventh in the nation for firearm homicides, 62% above the national average.
Rep. Karen Camper cheered the president’s action as well: “As a native Memphian, I am so very honored to be a part of this historic announcement. Gun violence is a plague on our city, our Tennessee communities and our country. As a state legislator, I have seen laws passed at the state level that have put more guns on the street and policies that have led to more gun crimes, particularly here in Memphis. Our neighborhoods and our schools are less safe today than they were in the past. We should be able to shop, worship and learn without worrying about being shot. We’ve all seen too many tragedies in Memphis, in Nashville, and across the U.S. that have unfortunately led to the necessary creation of this office and I fully support the president and Vice President Kamala Harris in their efforts.”