The office will be spearheaded by Vice President Kamala Harris, as announced by the President on Friday afternoon.
The President's executive order is a testament to his commitment to addressing the issue of gun violence, a matter he deems of utmost importance to himself and the nation. He stated, "I am determined to send a clear message about how important this issue is to me and to the country."
In the aftermath of mass shootings, President Biden has repeatedly encountered pleas for action. He quoted these pleas, saying, "‘Do something to prevent tragedy that leaves behind survivors who will always carry the physical and emotional scars.’" He assured that his administration is tirelessly working towards that end.
Vice President Harris, who addressed the gathering earlier, pledged, "With this new office, we will use the full power of the federal government to strengthen the coalition of survivors and advocates and students and teachers and elected leaders to save lives and fight for the right of all people to be safe from fear."
The Rose Garden announcement also saw the presence of Rep. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla., the youngest member of Congress at 26. Frost's first legislative endeavor was the introduction of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention Act of 2023. He expressed his satisfaction that his bill "will become a reality due to the executive action, the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris."
President Biden highlighted the alarming fact that "guns are the number one killer of children in America." He called for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and emphasized the need to crack down on ghost guns.
The newly formed office will focus on four key areas: swift implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which received bipartisan support last year; rapid execution of his executive actions on gun control; increased support for victims post-shootings, akin to FEMA's response to natural disasters; identification of new executive orders for the President to sign; and collaboration with state and local partners to enact laws at that level.
President Biden warned Congress, stating, "let me be very clear, if members of the Congress refuse to act, then we'll need to elect new members of Congress that will act. Democrat or Republican." He emphasized that the safety of children from gun violence is a crucial issue, adding, "At the end of the day, whether they're Democrats or Republicans, they all want our families to be safe."
He acknowledged that these measures alone would not solve the gun violence epidemic entirely. However, he asserted, "None of them. But together they will save lives."
Since President Biden assumed office, gun control groups have been urging him to take executive action on firearms, including declaring a national emergency on gun violence.
In January, a coalition of 117 groups demanded the establishment of a federal office of gun violence prevention, a $5 billion fund for community violence intervention programs, enforcement of the ban on foreign-made weapons, stricter Federal Trade Commission regulations on firearm marketing, education campaigns on gun safety, and a detailed plan on the enactment of the Safer Communities Act passed last year.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, signed into law by Biden, was the most significant gun control bill in nearly 30 years. It incentivized states to pass red flag laws and expand background checks for 18- to 21-year-olds. The law was passed in response to mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, in 2022.
However, Congress has shown no indication of enacting further gun control legislation supported by the President.