Biden defends 1994 crime bill, says it helped him 'beat the NRA'

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden compares Trump to George Wallace Sanders unveils plan to guarantee the 'right to a secure retirement' CNN Democratic debate drawing finishes third in cable news ratings race MORE defended his efforts to pass a controversial crime bill in 1994, saying that the legislation's gun control provisions helped him "beat the NRA."

"I’m the only guy ever nationally to beat the NRA," the presidential hopeful said before a New Hampshire crowd Tuesday. "Because when we did the crime bill — everybody talks about the bad things. Let me tell you about the good thing in the crime bill."

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"It’s the one that had the assault weapons ban, a limited number of bullets in a clip. It made sure that cop-killer bullets, Teflon bullets, weren’t available any longer. It opened up the whole effort to make sure there is background checks for the first time in American history."

The Clinton-era legislation, which Biden helped craft while serving as a senator from Delaware, has been panned by Democrats in recent years who blame the legislation for causing a spike in incarcerations, particularly among people of color.

The legislation offered states financial incentives to impose stricter sentencing laws and enacted a three-strikes rule that imposed mandatory life sentences if a person was found guilty of a violent crime and had two or more prior convictions.

Tuesday’s remarks marked the second day in a row that Biden has defended the 1994 legislation, citing funds that were earmarked for drug prevention efforts and drug courts.

"One-third of the $10 billion was for prevention," Biden said, according to Bloomberg. "I got made fun of because it’s just Biden spending money not fighting crime, on prevention."

"We also set up drug courts so that we could divert people. They should be treated, not in jail," he added.

Though Biden has established himself as the Democratic primary pack’s current front-runner, emerging at the top of several national and statewide polls and raking in millions of dollars in campaign donations, he continues to face skepticism from the party’s more progressive wing, largely over his votes on similar crime bills in the 1980s and 1990s and his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 1991 Anita HillAnita Faye HillAnita Hill: I could see myself voting for Biden over Trump Bill Maher: Buttigieg a 'little too young' to be president What I saw at the last impeachment: Rules are for little people MORE hearings.