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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 4, 2000

                              March 4, 2000         

In the aftermath of this week's tragic shootings, President Clinton today will call on Congress to put the interests of American families over those of the gun lobby and to enact long-delayed gun safety legislation. The President will convene a meeting of Congressional leaders Tuesday to break the logjam on this bill, and in today's radio address he will outline measures he believes must be in the final bill, including: closing the gun show loophole, requiring child safety locks for handguns, and banning importation of large capacity ammunition clips. The President also will challenge Congress to pass his plan to punish adults who recklessly allow children to have access to deadly weapons. He will press Congress to fund the development of "smart gun" technologies that can limit a gun's use to its proper owner, and to support his proposal for state-issued licenses for new handgun purchasers. And he will call on Congress to resist the pressure of the NRA, which has stood shamelessly in the way of common sense gun safety measures.

PUSHING CONGRESS TO PASS COMMON SENSE GUN LEGISLATION. For eight months -- despite numerous gun tragedies at schools, workplaces, and even places of worship all across America -- the Congress has allowed the common sense gun measures in the pending juvenile crime bill to languish. The House failed altogether to pass critical gun safety measures as part of its bill, but the Senate passed key Administration proposals to help keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals. Today the President will demand that any final juvenile crime bill must contain gun safety measures and he will pledge to work with Congressional leaders to enact the Senate-passed provisions into law. The Senate gun provisions include:

HOLDING PARENTS RESPONSIBLE FOR CHILD ACCESS TO GUNS. The President will also call on the Congressional leaders to take a step beyond the Senate-passed provisions and pass his Child Access Prevention (CAP) proposal, which would hold adults accountable if they allow children easy access to loaded guns. Sixteen states have already adopted CAP laws. According to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, CAP laws help reduce fatal unintentional shootings by an average of 23 percent. The President's proposed legislation, championed by Sens. Durbin and Kennedy and Rep. McCarthy, would impose felony penalties on adults who knowingly or recklessly allow a child to have unlawful access to an unlocked gun that is later used to cause death or serious injury. Such adults could be imprisoned for up to three years, fined up to $250,000, or both.

LEADING AN EFFORT TO DEVELOP SMART GUN TECHNOLOGY. The President has proposed a $10 million FY 2001 budget initiative to fund the research, development and replication of "smart gun" technologies. These state-of-the-art safety innovations would limit a gun's use to its proper adult owner -- and could prevent accidental shooting deaths, deter gun theft, and stop criminals from seizing and using the guns of police officers against them. Despite an NRA advertising campaign ridiculing smart guns, Congressional support for smart gun technology has grown rapidly, thanks to Rep. Pascrell, Senators Kohl and Boxer and others.

CALLING FOR A STATE-BASED LICENSING SYSTEM FOR HANDGUN PURCHASES. President Clinton will also call on Congress to create a state-based licensing system that would apply to all new handgun purchases. Sens. Schumer and Feinstein and Reps. Nadler, Holt, McCarhty and Lowey have been active on this issue. Individuals seeking to buy a handgun would be required to obtain a photo license from their state of residence, and to present the license when they purchase a handgun. States would issue a license only if the applicant has passed a Brady background check and completed a certified safety course or exam. Such a system would differ from registration, which requires firearms owners (in addition to purchasers) to register all firearms in their possession with a governmental authority.