Biden outlines plan to address gun crime in Pennsylvania speech

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Washington — President Biden is heading to Pennsylvania on Tuesday to detail his $37 billion plan aimed at addressing gun crime and tout the recent passage of a bipartisan gun control bill, while also taking the opportunity to denounce “Congressional Republicans’ extreme MAGA agenda,” according to a White House official.

The president is in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to articulate his “Safer America Plan,” a proposal that would be funded through money included in his fiscal year 2023 budget request, which requires congressional approval.

Mr. Biden was born in nearby Scranton, where he spent his early childhood, and has often returned to make major speeches from the area. He was originally scheduled to deliver Tuesday’s speech in July, but was forced to postpone the trip when he tested positive with COVID-19.

The president’s crime prevention proposal calls for $13 billion over the next five years for communities to hire and train 100,000 additional police officers, as well as nearly $3 billion to help clear court backlogs and solve murders, a White House fact sheet said.

Mr. Biden’s plan would also establish a $15 billion grant program for cities and states to use over the next decade to promote approaches to prevent violent crime or identify non-violent situations that warrant a public health response, with the goal of alleviating the burden on law enforcement officers. Another $5 billion would be used for evidence-based community violence intervention programs. 

A White House official said the president “will make clear that Congressional Republicans’ extreme MAGA agenda is a threat to the rule of law,” and argue that Republicans “can’t propose defunding the FBI or defend the mob that stormed the Capitol and attacked and assault[ed] police officers on January 6th and be pro-police.”

Mr. Biden also planned to continue to press Congress to ban assault weapons, a near impossibility just weeks before the midterm elections, while praising passage of “the most significant gun safety law in 30 years,” according to the official.

In 2021, homicides in major U.S. cities rose by 5% over 2020, and by 44% over 2019, according to the Council on Criminal Justice

Lawmakers approved and the president signed into law a bipartisan measure this summer to reform the nation’s gun laws, the first major update to federal firearms statutes in decades. Called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the law enhances background checks for gun buyers under 21, provides billions of dollars for mental health services and sets aside $750 million to incentivize states to create crisis-intervention programs. The measure also closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to ensure convicted domestic abusers can’t purchase a firearm for five years.

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