The announcement that Vice President Kamala Harris—a perennial gun control advocate—would head Joe Biden’s new federal office of Gun Violence Prevention has been met with guffaws from conservatives, but should gun owners actually worry?
Harris, say most observers, has been a disaster as a “border czar,” but she has never shown any great interest in border security or immigration reform. However, Harris has a history of gun control advocacy since serving in the California legislature and as that state’s attorney general, and later as a U.S. Senator.
The announcement’s timing brought a roll-eyes reaction from people attending the 38th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference over the weekend in Phoenix. It gave them one more Biden gun control scheme to discuss.
As reported by Politico, Harris has “played a leading role in gun safety policy.”
When she was attorney general in the Golden State, she was sued by the Second Amendment Foundation and Calguns Foundation in a case known as Silvester v. Harris.
As reported by the Associated Press, “Harris, a former prosecutor and attorney general, has years of experience on the issue and was the natural fit to lead the effort, White House officials said.”
The media is making much of the fact that this is the first federal office devoted to gun control. Biden has been a gun control zealot since arriving on Capitol Hill 50 years ago. It is almost a certainty guns and violent crime will be a central issue in the 2024 presidential campaign.
Because you marched, organized, and voted, we passed the most significant gun safety legislation in 30 years. But let’s be clear — we have more work to do.
Today, I am proud to share that I will oversee the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention. pic.twitter.com/i16sAr98Yz
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) September 22, 2023
As previously reported by Ammoland News, the new office will also involve Greg Jackson, executive director of the Community Justice Action Fund, and Rob Wilcox, senior director for federal government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety. Politico said they will be “deputy directors of the new office” under Stefanie Feldman, a “longtime Biden aide” who has a decade of experience working on gun control policy. The new office will reportedly focus initially on full implementation of the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
According to Fox News, Harris said in a video that “leaders” in the gun control movement come from “varied backgrounds,” including “students, parents, teachers, community leaders who understand that living free from gun violence should be a right.”
But gun rights activists already noted this is a right—to keep and bear arms—which is protected by the Second Amendment. The only requirement is that people exercise that right to deter so-called “gun violence.”
The White House announcement comes in response to years of pressure by gun control groups that Biden take some action on the issue. They have, according to Politico, contended that such an office would help the Biden administration to coordinate gun policy. In Biden’s case, that policy has always been decidedly anti-gun-rights, and he has repeatedly boasted about his role in passage of he Brady Law and the ten-year ban on so-called “assault weapons” that was part of the Clinton crime bill in 1994, the passage of which contributed to the massive loss of Democrats in Congress in that year’s mid-term elections.
Media coverage of the White House announcement noted how gun control efforts have cooled in Congress. With Republicans in control of the House, Biden’s gun ban agenda—he has publicly acknowledged he would like to stop the sale of modern semi-auto rifles and 9mm pistols—is stalled.
However, there are indications the administration has weaponized federal agencies to go after guns. Alarms have been raised over actions by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the IRS, to allegedly intimidate gun dealers. The proposed new rule, which would redefine the term “engaged in the business,” is also making headlines.
The gun prohibition lobby is reportedly pleased with Biden’s creation of this new office, which indicates the White House is showing “leadership” on the issue of gun-related violent crime.
But Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, issued a statement blasting the White House’s new bureaucracy, considering its timing so close to the indictment of Hunter Biden on federal gun charges.
“I am appalled that Joe Biden is putting the gun prohibition lobby on the White House payroll,” Gottlieb said. “I know that many pro-gun rights members of Congress are working on legislation to prohibit funding for this obnoxious scheme.
“I wonder,” he mused, “how much of their time will be spent keeping guns out of Hunter Biden’s hands now that he has been indicted on gun charges?”
Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.