National News

Biden speaks on gun safety after his son is found guilty on firearms charges

U.S. President Biden attends Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund's annual "Gun Sense University" conference in Washington

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden showcased his administration’s efforts to cut down on illegal gun trafficking and reduce crime at a gun violence prevention summit on Tuesday, just hours after his son Hunter was convicted of lying about his drug use to illegally buy a gun.

Biden issued a written statement saying he accepted the outcome of the case, but did not address the issue during an address on Tuesday to survivors of gun violence, mayors, parents and educators. Biden was set to return to Wilmington, Delaware later in the day to be with his son.

Biden praised the survivors of gun violence for their determination not to focus on their anger, but on what they can do to prevent more tragedies.

Through their words and actions, Biden said the survivors ensure that “all the victims of gun violence are not forgotten. They didn’t die in vain.”

The Democratic president, facing a tough battle against former President Donald Trump to win a second term in the November presidential election, highlighted his administration’s efforts to reduce crime ahead of the two-year anniversary of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

That act was created in the wake of massacres at a Texas elementary school and a New York supermarket. It established new criminal offenses for the straw-purchasing of firearms by buyers who lie about the gun’s intended owner, among other provisions.

The Department of Justice has charged more than 500 defendants with violating gun trafficking and straw purchasing provisions of a new gun safety law enacted two years ago, the White House announced on Tuesday.

Biden hailed preliminary data released by the FBI, which showed that murders decreased by 26% in the first quarter of 2024, while robberies fell by almost 18%, and violent crime overall dropped by 15%.

Biden’s speech was interrupted by pro-Palestinian protestors. The crowd grew angry, but Biden urged patience, saying “innocent children have been lost.”

Democrats are deeply divided over Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza and the president routinely faces protests at public events.

The White House noted that the Trump administration saw the largest increase in murders ever recorded.

Democrats largely favor stricter gun laws as a way to reduce deaths from gun violence at schools and in cities across the country.

Republicans, with the support of the National Rifle Association, a gun rights group, largely oppose stricter laws, citing the right to bear arms established in the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

Trump, who last month won the endorsement of the nation’s top gun rights group, has pledged to unravel gun regulations put in place by Biden.

(This story has been refiled to fix missing space in paragraph 1)

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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