Biden’s New Office of Gun Violence Prevention is More Necessary than Ever

Social Justice Policy Brief #151 | By: Arvind Salem | November 6, 2023
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Policy Summary:

On September 21, 2023, President Biden announced the creation of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention to be led by Vice President Harris, who has already amassed a lengthy record in combating gun violence during her tenure as the Attorney General of California, along with gun violence prevention experts Stefanie Feldman, Greg Jackson, and Rob Wilcox.

The purpose of the new office is to act as an enforcement mechanism for prior gun safety legislation: most prominently The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act enacted in 2022. This was the first major federal gun safety bill in nearly 30 years, which closed major loopholes and strengthened gun violence prevention policies, and perhaps most importantly expanded access to mental health services to address the root causes of gun violence.

The Office of Gun Violence Prevention represents a key legislative triumph for gun violence activists and young voters as a whole. The bill was introduced by  Congressman Maxwell Alejandro Frost (FL-10), who is the only member of GenZ in Congress and was the former organizing director for March for our Lives, an organization founded by survivors of the Parkland School shooting to advocate for gun violence prevention legislation, along with Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and numerous other gun violence prevention organizations.

Policy Analysis:

Politically, this is clearly an effort from President Biden to reach young voters. Stronger gun violence prevention legislation is a key priority for young voters and Biden made the issue a key cornerstone of his 2020 presidential campaign. A poll conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found that 64 percent of 18-to 29-year-olds believe that gun control laws in the United States should be more strict. In the leadup to the 2024 election, this is a surefire way to energize young voters, and also allows Biden to run on the fact that he made some progress on an issue that has been notoriously overlooked in terms of enacting important legislative changes and substantially strengthening enforcement of existing policies.

Beyond the cynical view that this is purely a political ploy, gun violence is a major issue in American life, and the younger voting demographic’s response to this issue is partially due to the devastating effects it’s had on their lives. Firearms are the number one killer of children in the United States. At the time of the announcement, over 1,000 children between the ages of 12-17 died from guns.

However, the rising prevalence of mass shootings has made gun violence an issue that can no longer be confined to any one age group. After the latest mass shooting in Maine that killed 18 people and wounded 13 others, it is becoming clear that gun violence prevention needs to become a national priority. This isn’t an isolated incident: there have been nearly 2 mass shootings per day in 2023. This new office is at the very least a governmental acknowledgement of the problem and a commitment to exploring for solutions to a problem that 60% of Americans believe is a very big problem in the United States today.

Engagement Resources:

  • March for Our Lives – March for Our Lives is an advocacy organization founded by survivors of the Parkland school shooting that aims to develop and advocate for gun violence prevention policies.
  • Everytown for Gun Safety – Everytown for Gun Safety is a non profit organization that seeks to educate people about the effects of gun violence and advocate for responsible gun safety legislation. They have nearly 10,000 members across all walks of life.
  • Brady – Brady is an organization named after the bipartisan Brady gun law enacted in 1993 and works to further the spirit of that law currently by educating the public, advocating for legislation, and contributing to pro-bono legal services to challenge gun lobbies in court.
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