WASHINGTON — Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan joined President Joe Biden at the White House Friday as he announced a new Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which will aim to combat gun violence of all kinds throughout the country.
The announcement comes less than a month after a racist gunman claimed the lives of three Black Jacksonville residents at Dollar General in New Town.
“In 2023 so far, our country has experienced 500 mass shootings and well over 30,000 deaths due to gun violence. This is totally unacceptable. It’s not who we are and we have to act and we have to act now,” Biden said.
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton explained the new office will work to ensure the full implementation of federal laws aimed at preventing gun violence like the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, along with more than two dozen executive actions.
“Working to, not just maximize implementation of all of the executive and legislative actions to date, but innovating new gun policy and making sure that we are doing everything in our power and leaving no stone unturned in the fight for a safer future,” Dalton said.
Katie Hathaway with the Duval Chapter of Moms Demand Action is hopeful the office will make a direct impact here in Jacksonville, by aiding the survivors and New Town residents left traumatized after August’s racist mass shooting.
“We know the cameras go away, but the trauma is still there and there are survivors that need the resources to help them with their grieving process,” Hathaway said.
Dalton noted the office won’t simply focus on mass shootings but will also work to address the daily gun violence throughout the country that doesn’t necessarily make national headlines.
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“So, this office is going to be comprehensive in that nature and bring together experts with a really significant depth of experience in all of the above,” Dalton said.
While advocates like Hathaway are happy to see movement on the issue of gun violence at the federal level, she’s also hoping to see action at the state level, with the 2024 Florida Legislative Session kicking off in January.
“We need our politicians in Florida to prioritize this issue,” Hathaway said.