WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden will announce on Tuesday that the Department of Justice has charged more than 500 defendants with violating gun trafficking and straw purchasing provisions of a new gun safety law enacted two years ago, the White House said.

The Democratic president, facing a tough battle against former President Donald Trump to win a second term in the November presidential election, plans to highlight his administration's efforts to reduce crime ahead of the two-year anniversary of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA).

He will tell survivors of gun violence, mayors, parents, educators and concerned citizens about his administration's work to get illegal guns off the streets, hire more police officers and promote accountable policing and community violence intervention programs, the White House said.

Biden on Monday hailed preliminary data released by the FBI, which showed that murders decreased by 26% in the first quarter of 2024, while robberies fell by almost 18%, and violent crime overall dropped by 15%.

"This progress we're seeing is no accident," Biden said in a statement on Monday. "My administration is putting more cops on the beat, holding violent criminals accountable, and getting illegal guns off the street."

The White House noted that the Trump administration saw the largest increase in murders ever recorded.

Biden's campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz said gun violence was a big issue in the presidential campaign, with polls showing that more than 70% of Americans supported common sense gun violence prevention, including large majorities of Black, Latino and young Americans.

"President Biden has taken decisive action to curb gun violence, including by passing the first bipartisan gun safety legislation in nearly three decades," Munoz said in a statement.

Biden's remarks will come as jurors continue their deliberations in the case of his son, Hunter Biden, who is accused of lying about his use of illegal drugs when he bought a handgun in 2018.

Democrats largely favor stricter gun laws as a way to reduce deaths from gun violence at schools and in cities across the country.

Republicans, with the support of the National Rifle Association, a gun rights group, largely oppose stricter laws, citing the right to bear arms established in the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment.

Trump, who last month won the endorsement of the nation's top gun rights group, has pledged to unravel gun regulations put in place by Biden.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal)

By Andrea Shalal