The Biden administration announced today that it is launching the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which will focus on implementing executive and legislative action to reduce firearm violence in America.
“With this new office, we will use the full power of the federal government to strengthen the coalition of survivors and advocates and students, teachers and elected leaders to save lives and fight for the rights of all people to be safe from fear…” said Vice President Kamala Harris, who will oversee the office.
The office will have four primary responsibilities:
- expedite implementation of the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first federal firearm-related legislation passed in nearly 30 years;
- coordinate support for survivors, families and communities affected by gun violence, including mental health care and financial assistance;
- identify new executive actions to reduce gun violence; and
- strengthen a coalition of partners, states and cities across the U.S. to strengthen laws.
“To be clear, none of these steps alone is going to solve the entirety of the gun violence epidemic,” President Joe Biden said during a Rose Garden ceremony. “But together they will help…”
“Guns are the No. 1 killer of children,” he added, noting that 500 mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. in 2023 alone. “This is totally unacceptable. It’s not who we are … the safety of our kids is on the ballot.”
Today’s announcement is welcome news for the AAP, which has been a leader in advocating for more action to reduce firearm-related injuries. Earlier this year, the AAP hosted its first virtual town hall on gun violence prevention and started a Firearm Injury Prevention Special Interest Group to provide a networking forum for pediatricians and others advocating for ways to keep children safer from gun violence.
In 2022, then-AAP President Moira A. Szilagyi, M.D., Ph.D., FAAP, testified before a Senate committee hearing on gun violence, sharing the testimonials of more than 300 pediatricians on how gun violence has affected the lives of their patients and families.
Today’s ceremony also featured remarks by Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), the first GenZ member of Congress and a gun safety advocate. The first bill he introduced called for an office of gun violence prevention.
“The president understands that this issue — especially for young, especially for marginalized communities — is a matter of survival…,” he said.
A recent study in Pediatrics found that 4,752 children and teens were killed by firearms in 2021, a rate up 9% from 2020 and up 42% from 2018. Half of the 2021 deaths were among Black youths.
President Biden applauded the work of Rep. Frost and other advocates, especially young people, as well as a host of gun safety organizations.
“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,’” he said.
In his statement today, President Biden also called for additional efforts to reduce gun violence, including:
- banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines;
- requiring safe storage of firearms;
- requiring background checks for all gun sales;
- eliminating gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability; and
- enacting the Safer America Plan, which would put more police officers on the streets and invest in gun violence prevention and intervention.
- AAP policy statement Firearm-Related Injuries and Deaths in Children and Youth: Injury Prevention and Harm Reduction
- Gun Violence Prevention Research Roundtable
- AAP Firearm Injury Prevention Special Interest Group registration form
- AAP gun safety toolkit
- AAP course Safer: Storing Firearms Prevents Harm
- AAP News article “Study: Firearm deaths among children continue to rise, disparities widen”
- Pediatrics collection on firearms