Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, applauded President Joe Biden for nominating the strongest gun sense cabinet in history –– including gun sense champions like Health and Human Services Secretary-Designate Xavier Becerra, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Housing and Urban Development Secretary-Designate Marcia Fudge, Attorney General-Designate Merrick Garland, Energy Secretary-Designate Jennifer Granholm, Interior Secretary-Designate Deb Haaland, Veterans Affairs Secretary-Designate Denis McDonough, Commerce Secretary-Designate Gina Raimondo, Office of Management and Budget Director-Designate Neera Tanden, Labor Secretary-Designate Marty Walsh, and more. He has also filled out other high-level White House positions with advocates of gun safety, including appointing John Kerry as United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, Ron Klain as Chief of Staff, Dr. Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General, Susan Rice as Domestic Policy Advisor and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Cedric Richmond as Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
President Biden’s commitment to surrounding himself with gun sense champions started with his selection of Vice President Kamala Harris, who has long been a staunch advocate for gun safety –– including supporting background checks on all gun sales, closing the boyfriend loophole, and much more. In 2020, Vice President Harris also joined Everytown’s Demanding Women Series to discuss fighting city gun violence during the pandemic.
“President Biden has put together the strongest gun sense team in history, starting with Vice President Harris, and we look forward to them swiftly taking action to save lives,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Gun safety is unifying, it is life-or-death, and — with the NRA sidelined by bankruptcy — the time for the Biden administration to act on this issue is now.”
“Our country is facing several simultaneous crises right now –– including COVID, domestic terrorism, and gun violence –– and President Biden has put together exactly the right team to tackle all three at once,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “The Senate should waste no time confirming his nominees so the strongest gun safety administration in history can get to work on saving lives.”
Here are the gun safety credentials of the gun sense champions in the Biden administration:
Xavier Becerra, HHS Secretary-Designate
- As a member of Congress, then-Rep. Becerra supported strengthening our background check system, voted against PLCAA (a gun lobby-backed law that makes it nearly impossible to hold irresponsible or reckless gun sellers accountable in court, even when they allow a criminal or unstable person to access a gun), and was consistently given F-ratings by the NRA.
- As attorney general of California, Becerra has sued the Trump administration to stop the proliferation of ghost guns –– untraceable, do-it-yourself firearms made from parts available without a background check –– and joined a multi-state lawsuit to stop the proliferation of downloadable guns.
- When he ran for AG of California in 2018, he was a gun sense candidate and endorsed by Everytown.
Pete Buttigieg, Transportation Secretary
- While running for president, Mayor Buttigieg released a plan calling for requiring background checks on all gun sales, passing a Red Flag law, allocating funding for gun violence research and dedicating $1 billion to fighting radicalization and violent extremism. He also earned a presidential gun sense candidate distinction from Everytown.
- Buttegieg was a longtime member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Everytown’s nationwide coalition of mayors who support gun safety laws.
Marcia Fudge, HUD Secretary-Designate
- In the last Congress, Rep. Fudge voted for critical gun safety legislation, including bills to require background checks on all gun sales (H.R. 8), address the Charleston loophole (H.R. 1112), close the boyfriend and stalker loopholes in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA, H.R. 1585), and address police violence (H.R. 7120). She also voted for the strongest gun safety appropriations package in history.
- As a Congresswoman, she was consistently given F-ratings by the NRA.
Merrick Garland, Attorney General-Designate
- According to The Trace, Judge Garland was “a key figure in a 2000 case involving the National Rifle Association” during which the NRA claimed that the National Instant Background Check System was a step towards a national gun registry. After a dismissal by a lower court, the NRA appealed the case to Judge Garland’s D.C. Circuit Court, which upheld the ruling and wrote: “We see no basis for concluding that auditing the [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] would suddenly produce constitutional violations. Nor does the NRA identify any specific features of the auditing process that implicate constitutionally protected rights.” Later, the NRA unsurprisingly opposed his nomination to the Supreme Court.
- Garland’s team is full of gun sense champions as well, with Lisa Monaco acting as President Barack Obama’s homeland security adviser as his administration pushed for gun safety laws; Vanita Gupta leading on police reform, advocating for gun safety laws, and speaking out against armed extremists; and Kristen Clarke advocating for background checks on all gun sales.
Jennifer Granholm, Energy Secretary-Designate
- After the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, Granholm called for action on gun safety, saying: “We can not stand idly by. We can sit and complain about what those darn politicians are doing, or say words, or we can do something. But, we can not wait for the politicians. Do not wait. You live in a state with an initiative process, you can organize, you can gather the signatures, you can use democracy to your advantage. Most states require a certain number of signatures; usually equal to between five and ten percent of the number of votes cast for Governor in the last election. If Tom Mauser can do it, if Colorado can do it, so can you.” She added, “It’s time for a call to action, everybody, people. I’m just sick of this garbage too. You should be as well.”
Deb Haaland, Interior Secretary-Designate
- In the last Congress, Rep. Haaland voted for critical gun safety legislation, including bills to require background checks on all gun sales (H.R. 8), address the Charleston loophole (H.R. 1112), close the boyfriend and stalker loopholes in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA, H.R. 1585), and address police violence (H.R. 7120). She also voted for the strongest gun safety appropriations package in history.
- As a Congresswoman, she was an Everytown/Moms Demand gun sense candidate and was consistently given F-ratings by the NRA.
Ron Klain, WH Chief of Staff
- After the Parkland mass shooting, Klain penned an op-ed calling for Democrats to prioritize gun safety, saying: “As far as Democrats are concerned, the NRA is no longer the 800-pound gorilla of American politics. Indeed, it may prove to be a thousand-pound anvil around Republicans’ necks in November.”
John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
- Kerry –– a gun owner himself –– has long been an advocate of gun safety, including supporting an assault weapons ban during his 2004 presidential campaign.
- In 1993, Kerry voted for the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which “established the background check system that has since kept more than [3.5] million firearms out of dangerous hands.” The next year, he voted for 10-year bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Denis McDonough, VA Secretary-Designate
- McDonough has long been a gun sense champion. During his time as White House chief of staff, the Obama administration twice (2013 and 2016) signed executive actions to address our nation’s gun violence crisis, and pushed vehemently for the passage of the Machin-Toomey background checks proposal –– legislation to strengthen America’s background check system. McDonough was also chief of staff for the administration’s 2014 suite of executive actions to fulfill “our promises to service members, veterans and their families,” which included a good first step of encouraging firearm safety as part of the plan to address suicide among veterans.
Dr. Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General
- Murthy has been an advocate for gun safety for years, since his organization –– Doctors for America –– sent a letter to Congress after the Newtown shooting saying: “As health care professionals who are confronted with the human cost of gun violence every day, we are unwavering in our belief that strong measures to reduce gun violence must be taken immediately.” He was also one of the first prominent advocates to call gun violence a public health crisis.
Gina Raimondo, Commerce Secretary-Designate
- As Governor of Rhode Island, Raimondo signed legislation to prohibit ghost guns in Rhode Island and submitted a package of gun safety bills to RI legislators –– including bills to ban assault weapons, ban high capacity magazines, and ban all guns at school, except for law enforcement personnel.
- She also signed an executive order to extend the background check window during the pandemic, thus allowing background checks to be completed while the system was overwhelmed.
- In 2014, she launched the States for Gun Safety initiative with several other Northeastern governors.
- She was endorsed by Everytown in 2018, and earned our gun sense candidate distinction.
Susan Rice, Domestic Policy Advisor and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council
- Earlier this year, she joined Everytown and Moms Demand Action’s “Demanding Women” series to discuss addressing gun violence and systemic inequities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Key quotes include:
- On gun violence: “As a mother with kids in school, like any other parent, I just fear that their school could become the next target. As an African American mom and a woman, I can’t escape the reality that gun violence is the number one killer of Black children in this country. And as a policy leader, it’s unthinkable to me that even though vast majorities of Americans favor common-sense gun restrictions — universal background checks, bans on assault weapons — we have a very powerful lobby that has effectively prevented so much of that from being enacted. It’s absolutely outrageous, and it makes me as angry as anything.”
- On NRA allies: “Vote out those who are doing the NRA’s bidding and vote in those who would make change, That is absolutely essential.”
- On white supremacist violence: “The reality is that far more Americans have been killed by domestic terrorists with white supremacist leanings than by foreign terrorists in recent years on our soil. That should be a wake-up call to our federal institutions, our Justice Department, our Department of Homeland Security, to prioritize domestic terrorism — white nationalist terrorism — as the threat that it is.”
- In 2018, Ambassador Rice also signed a letter led by National Security Action saying that gun violence is a national security issue –– and calling for U.S. leaders to “ban assault weapons, mandate background checks and waiting periods, and raise the minimum age to purchase guns.”
Cedric Richmond as Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
- In the last Congress, then-Rep. Richmond voted for critical gun safety legislation, including bills to require background checks on all gun sales (H.R. 8), address the Charleston loophole (H.R. 1112), close the boyfriend and stalker loopholes in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA, H.R. 1585), and address police violence (H.R. 7120). She also voted for the strongest gun safety appropriations package in history.
- As a Congressman, Richmond was endorsed by Everytown, earned our gun sense candidate distinction, and consistently given F-ratings by the NRA.
Neera Tanden, OMB Director-Designate
- Tanden has been a staunch gun safety advocate for years, calling for action to address gun violence and white supremacy after the Dayton and El Paso shootings, writing that partisan gerrymandering leads to more gun violence; and writing that republicans must work with progressives on gun safety.
- Before being nominated to the administration, Tanden cosigned a 2020 Giffords plan entitled Steps the New Administration Should Take to Save Lives from Gun Violence –– which called for several executive actions on gun safety.
Marty Walsh, Labor Secretary-Designate
- Walsh is a longtime member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Everytown’s nationwide coalition of mayors who support gun safety laws.
- Walsh has for years stood by activists on the issue of gun safety, calling for action on gun safety after the Parkland shooting, participating in an Everytown and Moms Demand Action rally in 2019, and cosigning a letter with 200 mayors urging the Senate to pass gun safety legislation.