Biden to speak about gun safety soon after son convicted of gun charges

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on an executive order limiting asylum in the East Room of the White House June 4, 2024 in Washington, DC.


President Joe Biden is set to address gun safety in a speech in Washington on Tuesday – hoping to contrast his administration’s efforts to promote gun control legislation with the efforts of his opponent to curry favor with the gun lobby.

The president will speak at the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund’s “Gun Sense University,” where he is expected to announce that the Justice Department has indicted more than 500 defendants for violating new provisions created by the bipartisan Safer Communities Act. safe.

Although an important topic for the president’s re-election, the speech comes at a politically and personally sensitive time for the Biden family: the president’s son, Hunter Biden, was convicted Tuesday morning of three felonies related to lying on federal forms requiring a firearm. for buyers to affirm they are not addicted to drugs by purchasing a handgun in 2018, while in the midst of a serious crack addiction.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the timing of Biden’s speech and his son’s federal trial Tuesday morning.

While Biden has largely avoided commenting on his son’s trial — he said in an interview last week that he would respect the outcome of the trial and not pardon his son — the outcome of the jury’s verdict will certainly be front and center of his concerns on Tuesday. . The president is known for being passionately defensive about his family and sensitive to outside criticism of his son’s troubled history.

“As I said last week, I’m the president, but I’m also a dad. Jill and I love our son and are very proud of the man he is today,” Biden said in a statement following the verdict. “Many families with loved ones battling addiction understand the feeling of pride in seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in their recovery. As I also said last week, I will accept the outcome of this case and continue to respect the legal process while Hunter considers an appeal. Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that.

The painful moment for the Biden family comes a day before President Biden is scheduled to leave for a three-day trip to Italy for the G7 summit. The coincidence of timing speaks to the balance Biden was forced to strike throughout his son’s legal proceedings. While the trial was underway last week, Biden was in France to commemorate D-Day.

Aides said the president was following the trial from overseas and staying in touch with his son and first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, who returned to Delaware to attend the trial for a day.

Before and after that trip, Biden spent a lot of time with Hunter in Delaware. He returned from France directly to the family home in Wilmington.

Biden had not planned to return to Delaware to see his son before leaving for Italy. But after his son’s conviction, the White House announced that the president would travel to Wilmington on Tuesday afternoon.

He will try to put personal drama aside while talking about gun violence, a subject he considers key to his political life.

As a senator, the president helped push Congress to pass an assault weapons ban in the 1990s and has promised to do so again. He also frequently touts the signing of the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was the first significant gun safety legislation in a quarter century when it was passed.

The law, which was signed into law by Biden nearly two years ago, was created following massacres at a Texas elementary school and a New York supermarket. It established new criminal offenses for the purchase of firearms by buyers who lie about the intended owner of the gun, among other provisions.

Biden has pushed for universal background checks on gun purchases, strengthening scare laws that allow law enforcement to confiscate firearms from those deemed a security threat, and ban on assault weapons. He said he would make these efforts a priority if he were to seek a second term.

But most of those policies would include cooperation from Congress, and gun control remains one of the most controversial and intractable topics in American politics.

Former President Donald Trump, meanwhile, promised to roll back all the advances on gun control made during Biden’s term. Addressing the NRA convention in May, Trump said gun owners’ rights were “under siege” and urged them to vote in November.

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.