Neguse and McBath Lead House Democrats in Letter to Biden Urging Creation of Gun Violence Prevention Task Force
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA), led a group of House Democrats in a letter to President Biden reiterating their request that he establish an Interagency Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention. The letter also asks that the President appoint a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention to chair the Task Force. The National Director of Gun Violence Prevention would report directly to the Office of the President with the goal of reducing firearm deaths and injuries by at least 50% over the next ten years. Both lawmakers led a similar letter in the spring of 2021 and attended the White House’s announcement of gun violence prevention measures a year ago today, on April 8, 2021.
“From Boulder to Columbine, in Colorado our communities have suffered traumatic incidents of gun violence far too many times,” said Congressman Joe Neguse, Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “The scale of this epidemic warrants a comprehensive whole-of-government response. Enacting an Interagency Task Force on Gun Violence and appointing a National Director of Gun Violence will ensure we are investing in every solution to reduce incidences of gun violence and protecting our kids and our communities.”
“Every day that we wait to take action, 100 people die to gun violence,” said Zeenat Yahya, March For Our Lives' Policy Director. “In the last year, gun violence has become the leading cause of death for children in America. We simply don't have time to wait. We are glad to hear our calls for action echo in the halls of Congress, and to hear our friends in congress write to the President in support of a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention. Their plea is an urgent one and we need the President to hear it.”
This call for action envelops a whole of government approach to combating the gun violence epidemic and makes strides towards keeping communities and the American public safe. The office will centralize current efforts across agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco (ATF), Department of Justice (DOJ), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It also will bring together stakeholders specializing in best practices for gun violence prevention, experts, community organizations, and health care providers.
Tackling the gun violence epidemic has been a top priority for Congressman Neguse throughout his time in office, and he has redoubled his efforts in the wake of the March 2021 shooting at a King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado. He introduced the Secure Background Checks Act to close a loophole in the Federal Background Check system that allowed individuals to circumvent state laws by traveling out-of-state to illegally purchase firearms. The fix aims to address an issue that allowed an illegal gun purchase in 2019 which led to threats against Colorado schools and caused widespread closures. He led over 100 members of Congress in a letter to President Biden, urging that the arm-brace used in the Boulder shooting, which allowed a pistol to be turned into a short-barrel rifle, be regulated. This request was accepted by President Biden a year ago today, and the Department of Justice is currently in a rulemaking process to implement this change. Neguse is also a proponent for the reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons, leading the charge for that request as well.
Read the full letter here and below:
April 8, 2022
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Biden:
We write to support the creation of an Interagency Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and ask that you appoint a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention to chair this Task Force. This will allow for a more coordinated, whole of government approach to bring our nation out from under the depths of the gun violence crisis.
We appreciate the steps your Administration is taking to address gun violence, especially the six executive actions you announced in the Rose Garden on ghost guns, stabilizing braces, extreme risk protective orders, community violence intervention programs, firearm trafficking and bolstering the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco. On the anniversary of these important executive actions, we can take further steps to mitigate gun violence in this country.
Federal efforts to combat gun violence, including research on the impacts and causes of gun violence and law enforcement efforts to combat it, are currently siloed across agencies. Appointing a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention will ensure that agencies—including the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco (ATF), Department of Justice (DOJ), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—are working collaboratively, disseminating critical data and coordinating shared goals to create an effective, whole of government approach. We ask that this new National Director of Gun Violence Prevention report directly to the Office of the President with the goal of reducing firearm deaths and injuries by at least 50% over the next ten years.
We also respectfully request that the National Director of Gun Violence Prevention chair an Interagency Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention. This Task Force should formally bring together stakeholders who specialize in gun violence research and prevention to educate Americans on gun violence prevention best practices, and engage with experts, community organizations, health care providers, and Members of Congress to address the intersections of gun violence.
Every year, nearly 40,000 people are killed with guns in our nation and thousands more are injured, with disproportionate shares of this violence falling on communities of color. In 2020 alone, over 45,000 people needlessly lost their lives due to gun violence, a 14% increase from 2019. Despite these startling numbers, gun sales show no signs of slowing. In 2021, Americans bought roughly 19.9 million firearms, the industry’s second-busiest year on record. As gun ownership continues to soar to record levels, we fear that this violence shows no signs of abating.
We applaud each of the steps you have already taken to combat gun violence and ask that you give strong and immediate consideration to appointing a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention and creating an Interagency Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention. We look forward to partnering with you in this work, and greatly appreciate your consideration of these requests.
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