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Biden taps Harris to lead on gun violence prevention


A new federal office

Vice President Kamala Harris will lead a new federal Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

President Joe Biden announced the new office at a Sept. 22 Rose Garden event where several advocates and lawmakers had been invited to attend.

Harris, who has played a leading role in gun safety policy, will oversee the office, according to a White House statement. Longtime Biden aide Stefanie Feldman, who has worked on gun policy for more than a decade, will serve as its director.

“The new Office of Gun Violence Prevention will play a critical role in implementing President Biden’s and my efforts to reduce violence to the fullest extent under the law, while also engaging and encouraging Congressional leaders, state and local leaders, and advocates to come together to build upon the meaningful progress that we have made to save lives,” the vice president said in a statement.

“Our promise to the American people is this: we will not stop working to end the epidemic of gun violence in every community, because we do not have a moment, nor a life to spare,” she said.

Greg Jackson, executive director of the Community Justice Action Fund, and Rob Wilcox, the senior director for federal government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, will report to Feldman as deputy directors of the new office.

For years, gun groups have pleaded with Biden to take this action, which advocates see as a concrete step forward as gun safety legislation remains stalled in Congress. Activists have argued that such an office will help the administration coordinate on gun policy issues across the federal government, while also allowing the White House to show leadership on the issue.

“Every time I’ve met with families impacted by gun violence as they mourn their loved ones, and I’ve met with so many throughout the country, they all have the same message for their elected officials: ‘do something,’” Biden said. “It’s why, last year, I signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to keep guns out of dangerous hands, and have taken more executive action than any President in history to keep communities safe. But as I’ve said before — while these are important steps, they are just the first steps toward what is needed.”

The timing of the White House announcement comes as Biden’s presidential reelection campaign heats up, presenting the president and Harris with a fresh opportunity to generate enthusiasm among youth voters. Beyond the latest action on guns, Biden also delivered wins for both climate and immigration advocates this week.

“This is a great day for youth activism and a big step forward for gun safety,” said Natalie Fall, executive director of March For Our Lives. “We’ve called for this office for so many years because we know it will be a critical tool in our toolbox to end gun violence. The federal government has significant resources, in talent and treasure, to tackle the root causes of gun violence. For the first time, we have significant funding at the federal level to tackle gun violence and dozens of evidence-based programs that have been deployed over the years. We need someone to coordinate all of that and advise the President on how to cut through the red tape and take urgent action on gun violence.”