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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 7, 2000
                             March 7, 2000

President Clinton today will announce the release of a new Justice Department report, Kids and Guns, showing the devastating impact that gun violence has on American children. The report shows that guns are the key variable in the recent rise and fall of juvenile homicide. The rise in murders of juveniles and by juveniles from the mid-1980's to their peak in 1993 was entirely firearms-related -- as was their subsequent decline since 1993. Non-gun juvenile homicide remained constant during that period. The report also makes clear that even with recent declines, too many American youth are killed by gunfire: the gun homicide rate of children under 15 is sixteen times higher in the U.S. than in 25 other industrialized nations combined.

In the wake of last week's tragic shootings, the President today will also convene a meeting with Congressional leaders to break the logjam on pending common sense gun legislation. The President will ask the leaders to put the safety of American families first, and pass measures to close the gun show loophole, require child safety locks for handguns, and ban the importation of large capacity ammunition clips. The President also will call on the leaders to pass his plan to punish adults who recklessly allow children to have access to deadly weapons.

RELEASING NEW REPORT ON KIDS AND GUNS. Today's report, prepared by the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), contains encouraging news on recent declines in gun-related juvenile deaths, but reinforces the need to do more to keep guns out of the hands of children. Key findings include:

The findings of today's report underscore the importance of this Administration's efforts to reduce gun violence, including the Brady Law, the 1994 assault weapons ban, the Youth Handgun Safety Act banning juvenile handgun possession, and the Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative to crack down on illegal gun traffickers who supply guns to youth. The report also reinforces the need for additional gun safety measures, like those proposed by the President, to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.

PUSHING CONGRESS TO PASS COMMON SENSE GUN LEGISLATION. For eight months, the Congress has failed to complete action on common sense gun measures in the pending juvenile crime bill. Today the President will call on Congressional leaders to move quickly to enact into law the Senate-passed gun safety provisions to help keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals. 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 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 also 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.