Pennsylvania’s Biden touts gun control and slams Republicans

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WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — President Biden pushed for an assault weapons ban on Tuesday while harshly criticizing Republicans who defend the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, continuing his recent trend of lambasting leaders of the GOP ahead of midterm elections.

Two days before he was due to deliver a major democracy fight speech, Biden attacked “MAGA Republicans” in Congress who refused to condemn the insurgency. He took aim at a Republican senator who recently predicted an outbreak of violence if former President Donald Trump is criminally charged, and he condemned recent threats and violence against the FBI as that agency examines documents seized from Trump’s residence.

“Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress,” Biden said. “Don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you don’t condemn what happened on January 6th. I can not do it. For God’s sake, whose side are you on?

The president also criticized a recent comment by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) that there would be “riots in the street” whether federal prosecutors accuse Trump of taking classified government documents home after leaving office.

“I don’t expect politics to be a cakewalk. …,” Biden said. “But the idea that you turn on the television and see senators and congressmen saying, ‘If such and such happens, there will be blood in the street’? Where the hell are we?”

There will be ‘riots in the street’ if Trump is prosecuted, says Graham

Biden’s comments came days after an event in Rockville, Maryland, where he accused much of the Republican Party of turning to “semi-fascism.” With Tuesday’s remarks and his upcoming speech, Biden’s shift in rhetoric makes it clear that he hopes to deliver a midterm message that the GOP is increasingly embracing authoritarian leanings.

Republican leaders are responding that Biden is making reckless accusations in an effort to distract voters from persistent inflation and the Democrats’ liberal policies. “Biden’s Democrat platform has made communities in Pennsylvania less safe, and that’s why Pennsylvanians will vote for a new leadership in November,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said.

On Tuesday, Biden also criticized Republican calls to ‘defund the FBI’ in light of the office’s search of Trump’s estate at Mar-a-Lago, saying he opposes “funding the FBI” rather than defunding the police. “It’s sickening to see the new attacks on the FBI, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers and their families for simply enforcing the law and doing their job,” he said.

The lively address was the first of three visits by Biden next week to Pennsylvania, where Democrats face crucial races for governor and the U.S. Senate. Biden plans to deliver his prime-time speech in Philadelphia on Thursday and travel to Pittsburgh on Monday to recognize Labor Day.

In his speech on Thursday, Biden is expected to argue that American democracy faces a perilous moment and that citizens’ freedoms are under attack. That address has been in the works for weeks, according to a person familiar with the plans who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. White House officials planned the speech as part of Biden’s larger argument ahead of the midterms.

But he will take a different approach on Thursday than during his fiery speech in Maryland last week. While this event was a campaign rally, Thursday’s speech will be closer to a stately presidential address.

The tone should be similar to Biden’s speech at the U.S. Capitol on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 uprising, the person said. In that conversation, Biden accused “the former president” of undermining American democracy and spreading “a web of lies about the 2020 election.”

Biden advisers have concluded that his remarks resonate more widely when he is more explicit in his criticism of Trump. Biden is expected to call Trump directly on Thursday, but aides say he is unlikely to name specific Republican congressional candidates who repeated the former president’s bogus talking points about the 2020 election.

Advisers warned the speech was still being finalized and could change, but said the aim was a sober and candid assessment of threats to election integrity and the rule of law.

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Political struggles over election integrity are expected to become more focused this fall as midterm elections approach, where control of Congress is up for grabs. Democrats are particularly eyeing Pennsylvania, where Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) is vying for a U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican Patrick J. Toomey, and where Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, has embraced lies about the 2020 election.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D), who is running against Mastriano, appeared alongside Biden on Tuesday to tout his work as the state’s top law enforcement official. Lamenting a national shortage of police officers, Shapiro called on Pennsylvania officials to fund at least 2,000 new law enforcement positions in the swing state.

“We know policing is a noble profession and we know we need to support law enforcement,” he said.

Biden urged the crowd to support Shapiro, whom he called a “champion of the rule of law,” and Fetterman, who he said is “a powerful voice for working people.”

Throughout his speech, Biden underscored his support for additional funding for law enforcement, as part of an effort to address GOP criticism of calls by some activists to “cancel funding for law enforcement.” police”. Biden’s “safer America plan” for tackling crime includes hiring 100,000 new officers across the country.

Public trust in the police is frayed, Biden said, a rift that threatens people’s safety. Without it, victims don’t call for help,” he said. “The witnesses do not come forward. The crimes are not solved.

In a moment that drew raucous applause, Biden called for a nationwide ban on assault weapons. He referenced the 1994 assault weapons ban that he pushed through the Senate and Congress allowed to expire in 2004. Mass shootings have decreased while the law was in effect, Biden said.

Biden said he owns two shotguns and doesn’t object to gun ownership, but added there’s no good reason for civilians to have assault weapons .

“My dad loved hunting in the Poconos when we lived in Scranton,” Biden said. “How many deer wear Kevlar vests, huh? »

He also remembers visiting Uvalde, Texas, after a gunman massacred 19 students and two teachers from a primary school there in May. He said some parents had to provide their DNA to identify their children because the Daniel Defense DDM4 rifle used by the shooter shredded some of the bodies beyond recognition.

“The DNA to say, ‘That’s my baby,'” Biden said, raising his voice. “What’s with us?”

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