Biden’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention faces praise and backlash
The Biden Administration announced the establishment of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which will be overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris on September 22. While the office is a progressive step forward for Democrats and advocates for gun control, the possibility of a Republican presidential win threatens a speedy dissolution of the office in 2025.
Joining the President onstage for the announcement was Congressman Maxwell Frost (D-FL), a long-time advocate for gun violence prevention who cosponsored a bill to codify the office into law earlier this year.
The first member of Generation Z to serve in Congress, Frost has been a strong advocate for gun violence prevention since he was 15 years old. Before his congressional campaign, he served as a national organizer for March For Our Lives, a student-led organization to end gun violence.
Frost introduced his first bill, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention Act, in March 2023, joined by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). The Act calls for the unification of federal leaders and those most impacted by gun violence to “advance policy, collect and report data, expand state and local outreach, and maximize existing programs and services related to preventing gun violence,” according to Murphy’s website.
The bill did not pass in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, but President Biden made Frost’s motion for the office a reality through executive order. “The president understands that this issue, especially for young people, especially for marginalized communities, is a matter of survival,” said Congressman Frost. Vice President Harris validated Frost’s sentiments: "On this issue, we do not have a moment to spare nor a life to spare.”
This is not the Biden Administration’s first action towards stricter federal regulations on firearms. For example, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law in 2022. Among other regulations, the Act notably imposed enhanced background checks for those seeking to purchase a firearm and provided over $11 billion in funding for mental health services. The Act received bipartisan support and was the first major federal gun legislation passed in nearly 30 years.
The establishment of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention will not end the Biden Administration’s push for more gun reform legislation. President Biden reiterated his call for a federal ban on assault weapons, saying: “We have to act now. And let me be clear: If members of Congress refuse to act, then we’ll need to elect new members of Congress that will act. Democrat or Republican.”
Stafanie Feldman, who has been an advisor to President Biden on the topic of domestic policy for over a decade, was appointed as the Director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention. Gun violence prevention advocates Greg Jackson and Rob Wilcox were named Deputy Directors.
Jackson, who is a survivor of gun violence, led the Community Justice Action Fund, a national organization that aims to empower communities of color to end gun violence. Wilcox was the Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, where he led efforts in federal advocacy, including testifying before Congress in support of common-sense gun safety laws.
The Biden Administration has received backlash from conservative politicians and institutions who favor less regulation on the possession of firearms. The National Rifle Association responded to the President’s launch of the office, telling Fox News Digital that the office should be renamed the “Federal Office to Disarm Law-Abiding Americans and Defeat the NRA.”
NRA spokesman Billy McLaughlin pointed out Feldman’s bias on the issue of gun safety, to prove that the new office targets the NRA. The new director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention has made a number of posts on X (formerly known as Twitter) that express opposition to the NRA. One post from 2020 states, “Vote Biden. Defeat the NRA.”
McLaughlin also commented that the Biden Administration is “using gun control to divert attention from the Biden Crime Wave” and that “perhaps it’s time for Joe Biden to tackle the real issues and focus on the rising crime rates.”
In response to the NRA’s comments, a White House spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the president “believes American kids shouldn’t have to learn to duck and cover before they learn to read and write.”
David Hogg, one of the founders of March For Our Lives, supported the creation of the office but noted that he “want[s] more to happen.” A survivor of the Parkland school shooting, Hogg told The New York Times, “But I also know there’s a complex network of things that are stopping us from making more progress. But President Biden is with us, and that’s the message he’s sending today.”
“For the first time in three decades, we came together to overcome the relentless opposition from the gun lobby, gun manufacturers, and so many politicians opposing common-sense gun legislation,” Biden said at the White House, “and we beat them.”
While the Biden Administration may have temporarily “beat them,” this victory may only be temporary. According to The Trace, “If Biden loses reelection, and a Republican decides to disband or reorganize the office, they could do so.”
With the impermanence of the newly established Office of Gun Violence Prevention, legislators who support it may see Congressman Frost’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention Act — which is still pending legislation in Congress — as necessary in order to codify the office into law, thus preventing a new administration from abolishing it immediately upon arrival at the White House.