▶ Watch Video: Biden to launch Office of Gun Violence Prevention on Friday

President Biden on Friday is announcing the creation of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, tapping Vice President Kamala Harris to oversee the new venture, which is intended to try to get around congressional inaction on stronger gun control laws.

In a statement, Mr. Biden said he’d continue to “urge Congress to take commonsense actions that the majority of Americans support, like enacting universal background checks and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” 

“But in the absence of that sorely-needed action,” he continued, “the Office of Gun Violence Prevention along with the rest of my Administration will continue to do everything it can to combat the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing our families, our communities, and our country apart.”

The White House says the office is intended to implement the president’s executive orders on gun violence and the most recent gun legislation passed by Congress, the 2022 bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which enhances background checks for gun buyers under 21, provides funding for mental health services and closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to prevent convicted domestic abusers from purchasing a firearm for five years. It’s not yet clear what the office’s role would be, but the White House says that having dedicated staff on hand within the White House will help expedite its objectives.

Last month, a coalition of gun control groups endorsed Mr. Biden’s reelection bid

Gun violence has spiked in many cities throughout the country compared to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. And a study this year published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found fatalities from gun violence have increased over time, with more victims dying at the scene of a shooting before they can reach medical facilities.

Despite Congress’ resistance, Mr. Biden continues to advocate for a new assault weapons ban

Mr. Biden and Harris have both visited the sites of mass shootings that occurred during their administration, including Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York.

File: President Joe Biden embraces Mandy Gutierrez, the principal of Robb Elementary School, as he and first lady Jill Biden pay their in Uvalde, Texas on May 29, 2022. 

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images