The Biden-Harris reelection campaign called out former president Donald Trump for his gun rights advocacy on Friday in advance of the GOP frontrunner’s appearance at the National Rifle Association forum in Harrisburg, Penn. It will be the eighth time Trump has addressed the powerful gun-lobbying group, which boasts a membership 5 million strong.
Last year, Trump told NRA Convention attendees he is the “most pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment” president in U.S. history.
“Do you want more assault weapons and more deaths from gun violence in our nation or do you want a president that wants fewer assault weapons and fewer tragic gun deaths? That’s really where we’re at,” Senator John Fetterman, D-Pa., asked during a press call on behalf of Biden-Harris 2024 to pre-rebut Trump’s appearance.
“The NRA was led by a grifter that is under trial,” Fetterman said, referring to former NRA leader Wayne LaPierre, who resigned last month after he was accused of misappropriating funds. “Now the GOP is led by a grifter that’s in how many trials I’ve lost count,” he said, referring to Trump, who is currently defending himself in four criminal trials alleging he engaged in fraud, election subversion and illegally retaining classified documents. (Trump has pleaded not guilty to the 91 felonies he faces across those four cases, denying any wrongdoing.)
During his appearance at the NRA Convention in April 2023, the former president vowed to be a “loyal friend and fearless champion once again” to the group if he wins in 2024. He told the NRA he would ask Congress for a bill that would require states without concealed carry permits to abide by those issued in other states. Saying gun deaths are a result of mental health problems and culture that cannot be solved with gun control legislation, he also advocated for teachers carrying guns and receiving a tax credit for firearm training.
“The reason I got involved in politics is because I didn’t want to get shot in school,” Rep. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla., a Biden-Harris 2024 National Advisory Board Member, said Friday. “I’m 27 years old and my life has been pretty much defined by seeing far too many folks in my generation shot down due to no gun laws. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done here.”
Since 2021, guns have surpassed car crashes as the No. 1 cause of death for children and teens in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every day in 2021, 106 people died from gun violence and another 215 were injured, according to the CDC.
Frost praised President Biden for establishing the first White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention last September. The office is designed to speed up implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act the president signed in 2022 to enhance background checks on individuals under the age of 21 who seek to buy guns, and to coordinate support for communities and individuals impacted by gun violence.
The freshman House member criticized Trump for his reaction to the school shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Fla., while he was in office in 2018. Following the shooting, Trump tweeted, “Very said that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.”
During Friday’s press call, Kimberly Mata-Rubio paid tribute to her 10-year-old daughter, Lexi Rubio, who was killed in her fourth-grade classroom during the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, almost two years ago that killed 19 students and two teachers.
“President Biden and Vice President Harris didn’t just provide unwavering support and much-needed comfort to me in my moment of deep grief, they provided action,” said Mata-Rubio, who unsuccessfully ran for Mayor of Uvalde last November.
She praised the Biden-Harris administration for enacting bipartisan legislation shortly after the Uvalde shooting to enhance background checks and help states expand red-flag laws that let courts temporarily remove firearms from individuals who are deemed a danger to themselves or others.
More needs to be done, she said.
“Universal background checks, a ban on assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and the repeal of gun manufacturers’ liability immunity need to be addressed,” she said. “There are a number of major issues on the ballot this election, but the safety of our children should take priority. Now is not the time to stay quiet or neutral on the subject of gun violence.”
The Democratic National Committee is seeking to drive home that message in Harrisburg, where it paid for a billboard chastising Trump for telling gun violence victims to “get over it.”
“Americans need common sense solutions to make our communities safer, but Donald Trump thinks gun violence victims need to just ‘get over it,’” Democratic National Committee press secretary Sarafina Chitika said in a statement. “This sickening behavior is what we’ve come to expect from Trump, who is running on a dangerous and unpopular agenda that would put more guns in classrooms and roll back bipartisan gun safety legislation.”