Content warning: This story includes discussion of gun violence. Gun violence has been a major issue in the United States for decades. Gen Z has been at the forefront of fighting to prevent this issue ever since the March for Our Lives protests began in 2018. And now, the Biden administration is also stepping forth to put prevention front and center.
The Washington Post reports that the White House has decided to create an office for preventing gun violence, which will be officially announced on Sept. 22 by Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Representative Maxwell Frost (D-FL) — the first Gen Z member of Congress — and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) had introduced legislation to establish a gun violence prevention office in the Department of Justice earlier this year, according to The Hill, and Frost will introduce Biden at the Sept. 22 event at the White House. But what even is this office, and what does it all mean for Gen Z?
What will the White House’s office 0f gun violence prevention do?
It’s unclear for now exactly how the office will function, but it is the first of its kind on a federal level and will work alongside Biden on strategies to combat gun violence in the U.S. NPR reports that White House staff secretary Stefanie Feldman will be leading this office. She has previously worked in the Domestic Policy Council and has worked on gun policy issues with Biden for over 10 years. The Washington Post also states that this new office will provide the Biden administration with the opportunity to utilize more leadership to tackle this issue.
The creation of this office builds upon President Biden’s past actions toward gun violence prevention, including an executive order he issued in March to increase background checks, among other things. Still, advocacy groups have long said that his administration could be doing more to prevent future occurrences of gun violence, so this office could make larger strides toward change where activists feel the White House has lacked in the past. March for Our Lives has been advocating for a national director of gun violence prevention since as far back as 2019.
What does this mean for Gen Z and young voters?
Gen Z is disproportionately affected by gun violence. According to Time Magazine, guns were the leading cause of death for children and teens in the U.S. in 2020: Out of 45,222 deaths as a result of gun violence in 2020, 10% of those deaths were children and teens. People of color, especially Black Americans, are even more likely to be victims of gun violence than white Americans. Gun violence has also become a main cause of stress for Gen Z, affecting their mental health. With that in mind, a federal office dedicated to preventing further gun violence could have major impacts on Gen Z’s mental health and daily life.
Gun violence prevention advocates appear to agree: Shannon Watts, the founder emerita of Moms Demand Action, said in a statement to The Washington Post that she believes this office will be beneficial since there will be greater efforts from the federal government to prevent gun violence. March for Our Lives co-founder reacted to the news on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter), writing, “This is good. Took forever since @marchforourlives and our partners started calling for it in 2019 but it’s happening.” and “I had so many damn zoom calls from my college dorm room with allies and the White House about this.” Her Campus reached out to Hogg for further comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication.
The Biden Administration’s creation of this office could also be a move to appeal to young Gen Z voters, according to NPR. Gen Z’s votes have been powerful: The 2022 midterm elections, for instance, saw young voters stop what was projected to be a “red wave,” making it to the polls to vote for issues they find important.
It’s important that you cast your vote for the issues that you care strongly about, including gun violence prevention, and the efficacy of this new office could be an important factor for the 2024 presidential election.