In a speech in Pennsylvania, Biden spoke about his administration’s crime prevention efforts and called on Congress to revive an expired ban on assault weapons.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – President Joe Biden fiercely defended the FBI on Tuesday as the agency and its staff have faced scathing criticism and threats of violence since executing a search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence earlier this month.

“It’s disgusting to see the new attacks on the FBI threatening the lives of law enforcement agencies and their families for simply executing the law and doing their job,” Biden told an audience of more than 500 at Wilkes University. “I am against defunding the police; I am also opposed to defunding the FBI.”

Biden also used his comments on Tuesday to further his administration’s crime prevention efforts and continue to pressure Congress to revive a long-expired federal ban on assault weapons. Democrats and Republicans worked together in a rare attempt to survive Gun Safety Act Earlier this year following massacres in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. They were the first significant gun restrictions approved by Congress in nearly three decades, but Biden has repeatedly said more needs to be done.

“We beat the NRA. We took on them and beat the NRA straight up. They have no idea how intimidating they are to elected officials,” an animated Biden said. “We don’t stop here. I am determined to ban assault weapons in this country! Certainly. I’ve done it before. And I will do it again.”

As a US Senator, Biden played a leading role in temporarily banning assault weapons, including firearms similar to the AR-15, which have exploded in popularity in recent years, and he wants to reinstate the law. Biden argued that there was no justification for such weapons “outside a war zone,” noting that the young victims’ parents had to provide DNA to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde because the weapon used in the massacre rendered the bodies unidentifiable.

“DNA to say this is my baby!” Biden said. “What the hell is wrong with us?”

Tuesday’s speech marked Biden’s first of three trips to Pennsylvania in the coming week and underscores the state’s role as a key political battleground. Trump is hosting his own rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

Democrats are trying to tone down Republicans’ efforts to use crime concerns to their advantage at the halftime. It’s a particularly hot topic in Pennsylvania, a key swing state with a US Senate seat and governor’s office up for grabs.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastrianoshe accuses the Democrat Josh Shapiro being soft on crime as a two-time Attorney General, saying at a recent event that crime has increased under his opponent’s watch and that Shapiro “stands aside” while homicides surge across Pennsylvania.

Homicides have increased in Pennsylvania, but overall crime appears to have declined over the past year, according to state statistics.

As attorney general since 2017, Shapiro has toured the state to discuss the need to crack down on gun trafficking and ghost guns, and to recruit more police officers. Last December, he said that by working together, state agents and Philadelphia police officers had reduced the number of shootings in areas faced with drug-related gun violence.

“The real heroes here are the people who put on the uniform every day,” said Shapiro, who was speaking at Wilkes University shortly before Biden’s comments. “We know policing is a noble profession, and we know we must stand by law enforcement.”

In the race for the US Senate, heart surgeon turned TV star Dr. Mehmed Ozthe Republican nominee has attempted to overthrow the Democratic nominee, Lt. gov. John Fettermanas extreme and ruthless in crime politics.

Fetterman has supported recommendations that more geriatric and rehabilitated prisoners can be released from state prisons without compromising public safety. Oz and the Republicans have distorted this into claims that Fetterman wants “dangerous criminals” out of prison or advocates “emptying prisons.”

Fetterman was not with Biden at Wilkes-Barre Tuesday, but he is expected to attend the Labor Day Parade in Pittsburgh when the president visits Sept. 5. Biden will also be in Pennsylvania on Thursday to deliver a prime-time speech that the White House has announced will address “the continued struggle for the soul of the nation” and defend democracy.

It’s unclear if crime will become a key issue in November.

According to an AP-NORC poll conducted in June, only 11% of US adults named crime or violence as one of the top five issues they think the government should work on over the next year. That’s unchanged since December and is well below the percentage naming many of the other top issues for Americans.

Biden has tried to balance his approach to crime by acknowledging voter fears and praising but also pushing law enforcement more responsibility for officials. The White House has also repeatedly touted the additional funding for local police that was put into his sweeping coronavirus relief package in the early months of Biden’s presidency.

He has rejected the activist slogan “Defund the Police,” which Republicans have used as a bludgeon against Democrats in general, by demanding more money for cops.

Biden’s trip to Wilkes-Barre was originally scheduled for July 21 was cancelled when the President contracted COVID-19 and was isolated while contagious.

Biden has unveiled a $37 billion plan to fight crime and boost law enforcement resources. He wants Congress to spend $13 billion to help communities hire and train 100,000 police officers over five years. Another $3 billion would be used to clear court backlogs and resolve homicide and gun-related cases, and another $5 billion would be used for support programs that could help stop violence before it occurs.

Additionally, Biden is seeking $15 billion to provide grants for initiatives to prevent violent crime or create public health responses to nonviolent incidents.

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