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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 15, 1999

President Clinton: Challenging the Nation to Address Youth Violence May 15, 1999

As part of his weekly radio address, the President outlines measures that the government and media can take to address youth violence. The President criticizes the Senate for its refusal to adopt simple measures to keep our children safe from guns, and he calls on the entertainment industries to take steps to reduce our children's exposure to gratuitous violence.

Challenging the Entertainment Industries to Reduce Youth Access to Violence. In his radio address, the President calls on those in the entertainment business to think carefully about the content of their products, and make movies, music, TV programs, and video games as if their own children were watching The President issues three specific challenges to members of the entertainment industries:

Curbing the Use of Guns in Previews and Advertisements. The President issues a challenge to the entire entertainment industry to stop showing guns in any advertisements and previews children might see. The film industry currently prohibits the depiction of drug use in movie trailers viewed by children, on th e view that these images can promote harmful behavior. Images of guns in advertisements and previews seen by children can act in a similar way to increase the allure of these objects. Many in the entertainment industries have said that guns are behind the problem of youth violence. Banning guns from ads and previews to which children have access is one simple step to help solve this problem.

Making the Movie Ratings System Work Better for Parents. The President also challenges the movie industry to re-evaluate its ratings system, with a specific focus on the PG-13 rating, to determine whether it is allowing gratuitous violence in movies viewed by children. When a movie is labeled PG-13, parents should not have to worry about their teenagers watching it. Yet many of these movies contain gratuitous and graphic violence -- violence of the kind that parents want to and properly should know about. In a recent national PTA survey, 80 percent of parents said that they wished the ratings system gave clearer information as to a film's level of violence.

Limiting Children's Access to Inappropriate Entertainment Through Tougher Enforcement. The President challenges theater and video store owners to enforce, strictly and uniformly, the R-rating prohibition for underage children by requiring young patrons to show proof of age. Many children now see R rated films even though they should not be able to. According to a recent Gallup poll, half of American teens say they have seen an R rated movie in the last month, including 42 percent of those aged 13-15.

Challenging the Senate to Pass Common-Sense Gun Laws. Last year, over 4,000 gun shows were held across the country. An estimated 25-50 percent of the sellers at these shows need not conduct background checks: they can sell guns to criminals and youth with no questions asked. Twice this week, however, the Senate failed to close this gun-show loophole, and in fact created additional dangerous loopholes in our gun laws. Legislation approved by the Senate would (1) continue to allow some vendors at gun shows to sell guns without the background checks necessary to keep guns away from juveniles and criminals; (2) create a new pawnshop loophole for felons by exempting firearms redemptions at pawnshops from Brady background checks; (3) thwart law enforcement's ability to trace firearms sold at gun shows and later used in crimes; and (4) undermine the effectiveness of background checks by cutting the amount of time the FBI has to complete them from three days to 24 hours.