Sep 22, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden: Kids' safety from gun violence "is on the ballot"

President Joe Biden addresses the United Nations General Assembly Leader's Reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on September 19, 2023.

President Biden addresses the United Nations General Assembly Leader's Reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on Sept. 19. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden condemned the "totally unacceptable" rise in gun violence in the U.S. during a speech Friday after launching the first-of-its-kind White House office of gun violence prevention.

Driving the news: "If members of the Congress refuse to act, then we'll need to elect new members of Congress that will act, Democrat or Republican," Biden said Friday.

  • "There comes a point where our voices are so loud, our determination is so clear that our effort can no longer be stopped," Biden said, speaking alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, who will oversee the office.
  • "We've reached that point today in my view, where the safety of our kids from gun violence is on the ballot."

State of play: The office will work to "expedite the implementation" of the sweeping Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, Biden said Friday.

  • The president also appeared at the event with Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), the first member of Generation Z elected to Congress.
  • The office will also coordinate more support for survivors of gun violence, "the same way FEMA responds to natural disasters," Biden said.
  • It will also identify further executive actions the administration can take "within our legal authority to reduce gun violence," among other priorities.
  • He said that together the priorities of the office "will help rally the nation, to have a sense of urgency and seriousness of purpose."

Zoom out: There have been more than 500 mass shootings in the U.S. this year, and guns have become the leading cause of death for American kids.

  • The announcement comes as Biden's reelection campaign is heating up, presenting an opportunity for Biden to woo young voters.
  • Gun violence was a key issue that drove young voters to the polls during the 2022 midterm elections, according to advocacy group March for Our Lives.

Biden has been a strong proponent for stricter gun control legislation and has repeatedly called for a ban on assault weapons, but he's faced opposition from Congress.

  • Earlier this year he signed an executive order that the administration said would get the country "as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation."

What they're saying: Youth advocacy groups praised the creation of the office, which will be led by Stefanie Feldman, a longtime policy advisor to Biden on gun violence prevention.

  • Santiago Mayer, Voters of Tomorrow founder and executive director, said in a statement that the administration "has repeatedly answered our calls."
  • "Growing up with countless mass shootings, including in our schools, it's no wonder that Gen Z is called the 'mass shooting generation,'" Mayer said.

Go deeper: What young Democrats want from a 2nd Biden campaign

Go deeper