Philadelphia, Pa (September 22, 2023)—Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (Second District), Chair of City Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention, issued the following written statement today on the creation of the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention:
“I want to praise President Joe Biden’s decision to create the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
“The office will coordinate efforts across the federal government and will offer support and guidance to states and municipalities struggling with increasing gun violence, while taking the lead on implementation of the bipartisan federal gun legislation signed into law last year. The creation of this office on a federal level is long overdue.
“Philadelphia continues to suffer from one of the highest rates of gun violence in the United States. Despite progress over the last year, our city remains in crisis. Other cities throughout the nation – large and small – are also dealing with the issue of gun violence and working hard to find solutions to the problem.
“Firearms are the number one killer of children and adolescents in the United States, according to the U.S. Center or Disease Control. According to a recent Associated Press report, so far this year, at least 220 children younger than 11 have died by guns and 1,049 between the ages of 12 and 17 have died.
“As of September 20, at least six percent (16) of all homicides in Philadelphia so far this year have been children younger than 18 years old. As of 2020, the firearm mortality rate in the U.S. for those under age 19 is 5.6 per 100,000 people. The next comparable is Canada, with 0.08 deaths per 100,000 people.
“Throughout the summer, I have held public discussions with individuals and families impacted by gun violence; grassroots organizations working to reduce gun violence in our city; medical professionals; local, state, and federal elected leaders; and Departmental officials who are responsible for implementing plans to reduce gun violence. The purpose was to foster open and constructive dialogue around the pressing issue of gun violence and its impact on public health, and to develop strategies aimed at mitigating the harms caused by gun violence and reducing the incidence of gun violence in our city.
“I will continue to work to enhance coordination in response to Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis and lay the groundwork for a safer city for the rest of 2023 and beyond. The new federal Office of Gun Violence Prevention will help cities and states in our fight against gun violence. I know that better coordination between cities, states and the federal government in gun violence prevention will result in the saving of thousands of lives nationwide.
“I look forward to working collaboratively with the new White House Office of Gun Violence and its leadership team and bringing additional federal resources to Philadelphia to address our city’s most pressing public policy issue.”
Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, a former Pennsylvania State Representative, represents the Second Council District, which includes parts of Center City, South Philadelphia, and Southwest Philadelphia. He is Chairman of the City Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention.