Washington, D.C. — In a letter released this morning, Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-06), Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and fellow Task Force member Rep. Joe Neguse (CO-02) urged President Biden to name a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention and create an Interagency Task Force on the issue severely affecting the safety of the American public. The letter comes days after the White House began to push forward on an issue many wanted to see prioritized in the President’s first month.
“To end gun violence, we need many voices at the table: survivors, public health experts, community leaders, law enforcement, and people from all walks of life,” said McBath. “By establishing an interagency task force, the Administration can be sure we are looking at gun violence prevention from every angle as we work together to save American lives.”
“Gun violence in America remains a persistent and critical threat. It’s time we get serious about addressing it. In Colorado, our communities have witnessed tragedy at the hands of firearms up close and personally. If we are not doing everything we can to ensure another Columbine, another Aurora, another Highlands Ranch, does not happen again, then we are not doing enough,” said Neguse. “Appointing a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention to communicate and coordinate across federal agencies, and empowering them to create an Interagency Task Force to implement a comprehensive whole-of-government approach to address this violence, will help bring our nation out from under the depths of the gun violence crisis.”
“The directive to address everyday gun violence must be prioritized and operationalized from the very top of government,” said Max Markham, March For Our Lives Policy Director. “We cannot stand by while our peers, disproportionately young people of color, are subject to this senseless epidemic. The commitment to address gun violence as a public health crisis must start with building a national, unified plan that includes significant short and long-term funding for research and community violence intervention programming all over the country. We are grateful for the leadership of Representatives Neguse and McBath, and look forward to working with Congress and the Biden administration in order to ensure that we stop the gun violence epidemic immediately.”
In the letter, McBath and Neguse emphasize that such actions will allow for “a comprehensive government approach to address this violence,” and “will help bring our nation out from under the depths of the gun violence crisis.” The letter continues, “in 2020 alone, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged, at least 43,561 people needlessly lost their lives due to gun violence, a 10% increase from 2019. As gun ownership soars to record levels, we fear that this violence will only continue to grow.” The members write, “federal efforts to combat gun violence, including research on the impacts and causes of gun violence and law enforcement efforts to combat it, are siloed across agencies,” and an interagency task force to address the issue “should formally bring together stakeholders in gun violence research and prevention.”
The letter can be found online here, and reads:
February 26, 2021
Honorable Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Biden,
We write today to request that you appoint a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention and empower this newly appointed official to create and chair an Interagency Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention. In the face of persistent and growing gun violence across our nation, appointing a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention to communicate and coordinate across federal agencies, and empowering them to create an Interagency Task Force to implement a comprehensive government approach to address this violence, will help bring our nation out from under the depths of the gun violence crisis.
Every year, nearly 40,000 people are killed with guns in our nation and another 76,000 are injured, with disproportionate shares of this violence falling on communities of color. In 2020 alone, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged, at least 43,561 people needlessly lost their lives due to gun violence, a 10% increase from 2019. As gun ownership soars to record levels, we fear that this violence will only continue to grow.
Currently, federal efforts to combat gun violence, including research on the impacts and causes of gun violence and law enforcement efforts to combat it, are siloed across agencies. Appointing a National Director of Gun Violence to promote coordination of federal agencies will ensure these agencies are working collaboratively, including via the dissemination of critical data and coordination of shared goals, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco, Department of Justice, Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We ask that this Director work with — and directly report —to you and set forth the goal of reducing firearms deaths and injuries by at least 50% over the next ten years.
We also respectfully request that your National Director of Gun Violence Prevention be empowered to create and chair an Interagency Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention. This Task Force should formally bring together stakeholders in gun violence research and prevention – for instance the U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services – to educate Americans on gun violence prevention tactics, and engage with community organizations, healthcare providers, Members of Congress and others who work to address the intersectional dimensions of gun violence. The creation of this Task Force will signal the importance of this issue to our nation and further a comprehensive government approach to addressing it.
We applaud each of the commitments you have made to combatting gun violence and ask that you give strong and immediate consideration to appointing a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention who could create and chair 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.
Joe Neguse Lucy McBath
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Mike Doyle Terri A. Sewell Eleanor Holmes Norton
Juan Vargas Jan Schakowsky Suzanne Bonamici
Grace Meng Dwight Evans Earl Blumenauer
James P. McGovern Susan Wild Carolyn B. Maloney
Kathy Manning Mary Gay Scanlon Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.
Val Demings Bobby L. Rush Thomas R. Suozzi
Chrissy Houlahan Mark DeSaulnier Theodore E. Deutch
Daniel T. Kildee Jahana Hayes Madeleine Dean
Alan Lowenthal André Carson Bonnie Watson Coleman
Lisa Blunt Rochester Tony Cárdenas Jason Crow
Albio Sires Robin L. Kelly Alcee L. Hastings
CC: Hon. Susan Rice, Director of White House Domestic Policy Council