Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

N.M. lawmakers set to meet with White House on gun prevention violence

WASHINGTON — The White House announced its Office of Gun Violence Prevention will meet Wednesday with nearly 100 Democratic state legislators in an effort to reduce gun violence and offer federal support.

As part of the meeting, known as the Safer States Initiative, the Biden administration will aim to provide states with more tools and federal support to protect their communities, such as investing in evidence-informed solutions to prevent and respond to gun violence and strengthening gun background checks.

Stefanie Feldman, who leads the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, said on a call with reporters Tuesday that the initiative will strengthen federal and state partnerships to combat gun violence.

“One thing we hear all the time is they want to do more to reduce gun violence,” Feldman said of state lawmakers.

The initiatives come as the United States continues to suffer from an epidemic of mass shootings. Firearm-related injuries are now the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in the United States, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

There have been several high-profile mass shootings this year, including a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee where three children and three teachers were killed and another in Lewiston, Maine where 18 people were killed and another 13 were injured.

This year, nearly 41,000 people have died due to gun violence and there have been 636 mass shootings, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. Last year, there were 647 mass shootings and in 2021 there were 690 mass shootings.

State legislators from Maine will also attend the meeting, Feldman said.

Only Democratic state legislators were invited, a White House spokesperson said.

Additionally, the Department of Justice is releasing two pieces of model gun safety legislation  — storing firearms safely and reporting stolen or lost firearms. A senior Justice Department official said the legislation on reporting missing or stolen firearms is modeled on state laws in Hawaii, Virginia and Maryland.

Office created in gun safety law

The Office of Gun Violence Prevention was established in September as part of the gun safety bipartisan legislation Congress passed last year.

Feldman said Wednesday’s announcement outlines actions that states could take, such as establishing a state Office of Gun Violence Prevention, investing in evidence-based solutions to prevent gun violence, such as community violence interventions, and strengthening support for victims and survivors of gun violence.

The other actions include promoting responsible firearm ownership, such as the safe storage of firearms and reporting of lost and stolen firearms.

“We know that safe storage saves lives,” Feldman said. “The majority of K-12 shooters are obtaining firearms from the home or the home of a friend.”

Other actions that states could take, Feldman said, included strengthening background checks, as well as holding the gun industry accountable by banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

Feldman said the White House will not only address mass shootings but “daily acts of gun violence,” such as domestic violence and suicide by gun violence.

According to the White House, legislators invited come from states including: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

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