(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden on Friday will announce the establishment of the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to help reduce the nation’s epidemic of gun violence.
“He believes that now is the moment to accelerate our work to reduce gun violence, which is why he is establishing this office,” Stefanie Feldman, who will serve as Director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, told reporters.
The office that will be overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris and a senior administration official said that adding White House coordination and capacity will have a major impact.
“There’s a big difference between doing the bare minimum and doing everything you can to make sure that the executive actions the president has already announced and the bipartisan Safer Communities Act are implemented to the fullest extent possible, and the president wants to make sure that we have staff on hand to really excel,” the official said.
Biden will be make the announcement at a Rose Garden event that will include members of law enforcement, survivors of gun violence, members of Congress and mayors, as well as some individuals Biden has met with as he mourned shootings from Sandy Hook to Parkland, from Uvalde to Buffalo.
Democratic Rep. Maxwell Frost of Florida, the first Generation Z and youngest member of Congress, is expected to introduce the president.
Feldman has worked extensively on gun violence issues in the past and importantly, according to a source, has the ear of the president.
The Washington Post first reported that Greg Jackson, a gun violence survivor who heads up the Community Justice Action Fund, and Rob Wilcox of Everytownfor Gun Safety, are expected to have “key roles” in the newly formed office.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday confirmed that the president will speak about gun violence on Friday but declined to give more details, adding that Biden is “going to try to do everything that he can to deal with this epidemic.”
The U.S. has seen more than 500 mass shooting so far in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. A mass shooting is defined as four or more people shot at one time.
Activist groups, including March For Our Lives and Newtown Action Alliance, have advocated for years for an office for gun violence prevention, saying in an open letter to Biden in 2021 that the establishment of an office would “streamline the government’s efforts to reduce violence.”
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Frost also introduced legislation last year to create this kind of White House office and liaison. Murphy said in a statement on Wednesday that the move will save thousands of lives.
“Congressman Frost and I introduced legislation earlier this year to establish this office, and though we will continue to push to codify the need for this office, the president’s decision to set it up without legislation is a great step forward,” Murphy said.
One source ABC News spoke with called establishing the office a big win for the gun violence prevention movement.
As Republicans have retaken the House, the likelihood of congressional action on gun safety issues has dwindled. Biden worked across the aisle to pass gun safety reforms in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting in 2022, but gun safety proponents have continued to advocate for additional measures, such as an assault weapon ban but also limits on magazine ammunition capacity, universal background checks and safe storage laws.
Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords, told ABC News in a statement, “This has been a top priority of ours for years, and it would provide an important center of gravity for leadership across the Administration as the President and Vice President implement the historic Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and continue to push Congress to pass legislation to save lives.”
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