Connecticut & Florida lawmakers team up to demand a federal gun violence prevention office

Under the bill, the gun violence prevention office would be run through the U.S. Department of Justice.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 12:35 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Both Connecticut and Florida have been the site of some of the nation’s worst mass shootings. Now, lawmakers from both states are teaming up to introduce a bill that would establish a gun violence prevention office at the U.S. Department of Justice.

For Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL), it’s his first piece of legislation since he was elected to office. The first Gen Z Congressman united with long-time gun control advocates, Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.

Frost said he grew up in the ‘lockdown generation.’ Inside his high school as a teen, he remembers watching the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School unfold in Newtown, Connecticut.

“I remember sitting sort of before Jazz Band concert at my high school and seeing the pictures of the kids being marched out of their elementary school with their hands in the air. And, those images hit me,” he said.

Frost, Blumenthal, and Murphy believe a national office of gun violence prevention would coordinate efforts between federal agencies, help in the collection of data, expand state and local outreach, and maximize programs to prevent gun violence.

The legislation would create an advisory council of senior Department of Justice officials, survivors, community violence intervention providers, public health officials, medical professionals, mental health clinicians, state and local public health department officials, and more.

Survivors and family members of victims were in attendance Wednesday as the lawmakers held a press conference outside Capitol Hill to discuss the bill.

March for Our Lives co-founder David Hogg is a survivor of the February 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida. He explained why he believes an office of gun violence prevention is necessary.

“The reason why we need this office is kind of the reason why an orchestra needs a conductor. Because everybody is kind of, the DOJ and HHS and all these other federal agencies, are playing their own songs. We need them to be playing one song in harmony together. And right now, there isn’t that office that is coordinating all that. And that’s why we’re here right now today, calling for a national office of Gun Violence Prevention. Not to create new laws, but to enforce the laws that we already have on the books better,” he said.

Manuel Oliver, who lost his son in the Parkland, Florida shooting, aid the lawmakers’ action brings him hope.

“I like to think that I’m part of it. I like to think the legacy of our beautiful son Joaquin, it’s part of the beginning of this next change that we’ll see in society. So, as I said there’s a lot of hope. But there is also a lot of action. Things won’t happen by themselves. And we have been very active along with other groups that are also here today. So, it’s an addition of actions that brings these moments of hope, that hopefully will become an actual bill,” he said.