THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON UNVEILS INITIATIVES TO PROTECT OUR COMMUNITIES FROM GUN VIOLENCE September 9, 1999
Joined by Mayors and Police Chiefs from across the nation, President Clinton today will urge Congress to help keep our communities safe from gun violence by quickly passing common sense gun legislation. The President also will unveil: (1) new reports from the Justice and Treasury Departments showing the effectiveness and importance of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS); (2) a $15 million gun buyback initiative sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and (3) $147 million in COPS grants to help communities hire 1,600 additional officers, including 750 officers for schools.
KEEPING GUNS OUT OF THE WRONG HANDS. Today, the Justice and Treasury Departments will release reports from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms that underscore the importance of the Brady Background Checks and enforcement of our gun laws.
National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Report. In its first seven months of operation (November 1998-June 1999), the NICS conducted over 4.7 million background checks and blocked an estimated 100,000 prohibited gun sales - bringing the total number of sales stopped to felons, fugitives, and other prohibited persons to over 400,000 since the Brady Law took effect in 1994. Key findings of the report:
ATF Enforcement Report. This report details the way the ATF, FBI and local law enforcement work together to ensure effective and thorough enforcement of the Brady Law. Although the vast majority of NICS checks are completed within three business days, in some limited instances this may not be sufficient time. In following up on incomplete checks, the NICS may discover that a gun has been transferred to a prohibited person. In such an instance, the FBI immediately contacts ATF, which handles these cases as a top enforcement priority. Treasury has added 60 additional federal law enforcement agents to assist ATF in investigating and recovering weapons transferred to prohibited persons. And since the NICS took effect, ATF has opened over 1000 criminal investigations involving individuals who have illegally attempted to purchase firearms - over 200 of which have been referred to U.S. Attorneys for federal prosecution.
GIVING COMMUNITIES TOOLS TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE. The President today also will announce two important tools for communities to combat crime and gun violence: a new HUD gun buyback initiative and funds for hundreds of communities to hire more police officers.
HUD Gun Buyback: Taking Guns Off the Streets. The President will announce a $15 million HUD initiative to help create gun buyback programs in communities across the country. Police departments and several cities have initiated similar programs, allowing citizens to turn in their guns in exchange for money, vouchers for gifts or clothing, and other items of value. The funds will enable public housing authorities (PHAs) to partner with local law enforcement departments to establish gun buyback programs - removing up to 300,000 guns from circulation by the end of the year. The initiative will encourage a cap of $50 for each working gun, and encourage PHAs to provide the awards in the form of gift certificates for goods or services rather than cash. Every HUD-sponsored buyback will be run by a local police department - with no amnesty given for any crimes committed with returned firearms. And to ensure the permanent removal from circulation of guns retrieved, all guns must be destroyed unless there is a need for an ongoing law enforcement investigation. COPS Grants: Putting More Police Officers on Our Streets and in our Schools. The President also will announce that the Justice Department will release more than $146 million in Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants to fund nearly 1,600 additional officers. $61 million will be provided to 151 state and local law enforcement agencies to hire over 850 new officers for our streets; and $85 million will be awarded to 319 state and local police departments to put over 750 police officers in schools.
FIGHTING FOR COMMON SENSE GUN LEGISLATION. Finally, the President will renew his call on Congress to pass sensible legislation supported by a bipartisan coalition of Mayors and Chiefs. The President will urge Congress to complete work on juvenile crime legislation and pass a final bill that includes the common sense gun provisions passed in the Senate to close the gun show loophole, require child safety locks for handguns, bar the importation of large capacity ammunition clips, and ban violent juveniles from owning guns for life.