President Joe Biden on Friday afternoon announced the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to pass gun safety legislation at the state level, saying he's "determined to send a clear message."
The newly formed office, which was made by executive order, will be led by Vice President Kamala Harris. The office will be run with the help of gun safety advocates, according to White House officials.
Speaking from the Rose Garden late Friday afternoon, President Biden, a Democrat, expressed his dedication to gun control measures, describing the prevalence of mass shootings as an epidemic.
"This new White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention ... will drive and coordinate a government and a nationwide effort to reduce gun violence in America," President Biden said.
He went on to say that he was "determined to send a clear message about how important this issue is to me and to the country."
The president noted that Americans have pleaded with him to "do something" to prevent mass shootings.
"Do something to prevent the tragedies that leave behind survivors who will always carry the physical and emotional scars, families who will never be the same, communities overwhelmed by grief and trauma," President Biden said.
"Well, my administration has been working relentlessly to do something."
The president said he'll continue to urge Congress to take "common sense actions" such as universal background checks and banning semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.
"But in the absence of that sorely needed action, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention along with the rest of my Administration will continue to do everything it can to combat the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing our families, our communities, and our country apart," President Biden added.
Vice President Harris, who addressed the audience earlier in the event, promised to use the “full power of the federal government” to empower survivors of mass shootings.
She has said that she's committed to the task set for the new office, pledging to "not stop working to end the epidemic of gun violence in every community because we do not have a moment or a life to spare."
Democrats largely favor stricter gun laws as the answer to prevent mass shootings. Republicans largely favor gun rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment.
However, the two sides came together to pass a package of gun safety measures last year, known as the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
Under her leadership, Vice President Harris said the office would be "engaging and encouraging Congressional leaders, state and local leaders, and advocates to come together to build upon the meaningful progress that we have made."
The office will be run by Stefanie Feldman, a White House adviser who serves as the president's staff secretary. It will also be run by deputies Greg Jackson and Rob Wilcox, gun safety advocates who will join the White House.
"[President Biden] believes that now is the moment to accelerate our work ... which is why he is establishing this office," Ms. Feldman told reporters.
She said the office would expedite implementation of the bipartisan federal gun reform law that President Biden signed last year, "dig deeper" to find additional actions the administration can take, coordinate support for communities affected by gun violence, and expand partnerships with cities and states.
The move has been cheered by gun safety groups, who equated the office's role to that of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.