Maxwell Frost joins President Biden at WH announcement on Office of Gun Violence Prevention

The Orlando Democratic U.S. Rep. introduced a bill to coordinate response earlier this year

By: - September 22, 2023 4:55 pm

President Joe Biden, Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost and Vice President Kamala Harris at a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House on Sept. 22, 2023 (photo credit: screenshot of White House video feed)

Six months after Orlando freshman Democratic Congressman Maxwell Frost filed legislation to establish an Office of Gun Violence Prevention, President Joe Biden made that a reality on Friday as he announced the creation of that office during a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Biden said that the office will have four primary responsibilities, including overseeing the implementation of last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first significant gun legislation since the passage of the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994.

The office will also coordinate support for survivors, families, and communities affected by gun violence, identify new executive actions to reduce gun violence, and expand the “coalition of partners” to get more state and local gun safety laws passed.

“To be clear, none of these steps alone are going to solve the entirety of the gun violence epidemic,” Biden said. “But together, they will save lives.”

The 26-year-old Frost is the former organizing director for March for Our Lives, the student-led organization created following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in February 2018, when 17 people were killed. Speaking at the White House event on Friday, Frost said he had a simple response when asked how he got involved in trying to combat gun violence.

“I didn’t want to get shot in school,” he said. “I was 15 years old when a shooter walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered 20 children and six teachers and, like millions of kids, I went to school the next day with anxiety and fear that my life would be taken, my friends’ lives would be taken, and my family’s lives would be taken by senseless gun violence.”

Frost introduced his bill, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention Act, in March. It calls for bringing together individuals “most impacted by gun violence with leaders across federal agencies to advance policy, collect and report data, expand state and local outreach, and maximize existing programs and services related to preventing gun violence.” While it didn’t move in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Biden is creating the office by issuing an executive order.

‘The power of young people’

“The president understands that this issue, especially for young people, especially for marginalized communities, is a matter of survival,” Frost said. “He’s a president who has been fearless enough to reject the gun lobby and sign the first major federal gun legislation passed in nearly 30 years, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.”

That law, while considered relatively modest by gun safety advocates, did receive bipartisan support in 2022. It clarified who needs a federal license to buy and sell firearms; imposed enhanced background checks including reviewing juvenile mental health records for individuals 16 years or older seeking to purchase a firearm; narrowed the “boyfriend loophole’ by prohibiting someone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in a dating relationship from purchasing or possessing a firearm for at least five years, and provides states with funding to implement extreme risk protection order programs.

Frost said that Biden’s move demonstrated that he “is a president that understands the power of young people.”

Whether that’s true or not, younger voters don’t appear to be completely enamored by the president.

Harvard Youth poll taken this spring showed Biden with an approval rating of 38% among registered voters between the age of 18 and 29, while only 27% of all young adults approved of his handling on the issue of gun violence.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.

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