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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release March 12, 2000
                           March 12, 2000

In his address to the National League of Cities today, President Clinton will call on local officials to join him in the fight for common sense gun safety measures. Citing recent tragic shootings, the President will emphasize the importance of providing communities with more tools to fight gun violence -- not fewer. Unfortunately, he will point out, some Republicans seem determined to block progress. Just days after the President's meeting to push key Congressional leaders forward on stalled gun safety legislation, the House Appropriations Committee threatened to undermine the Department of Housing and Urban Development's $15 million Gun Buyback Program to take guns off the street and out of circulation. The President will urge Congress to resist the mounting pressures of the gun lobby by putting the concerns of American families first, and working to pass life-saving, common sense gun reforms before April 20 -- the anniversary of the Columbine killings.

PROTECTING LOCAL RESOURCES TO COMBAT GUN VIOLENCE. Even in the wake of recent gun-related tragedies, the House Appropriations Committee this past week nearly gutted HUD's $15 million Gun Buyback program. The HUD program provides matching grants to public housing authorities and local police agencies to help launch community gun buyback programs that will take an estimated 300,000 firearms off the street and out of circulation in America. By reducing the number of firearms in circulation, gun buyback programs can help prevent accidental shootings, gun suicides, and unauthorized gun use, helping to reduce the toll of gun violence. To date, over 80 communities of all sizes and across all regions -- including communities recently impacted by gun violence such as Flint, Michigan and Memphis, Tennessee -- have been approved for HUD grants and plan to hold local buyback programs this year. If efforts to undermine the HUD Gun Buyback program had been successful, these local initiatives would have been placed in jeopardy. The original supplemental appropriations bill before the House Appropriations Committee included language to rescind FY 2000 funding for HUD's buybacks. After the Administration voiced its objections, the rescission language was dropped, but a subcommittee chairman continued to issue threats against the buyback program. The President today will note that it is simply unconscionable now to deny communities the tools to get more guns off the streets.

PUSHING FOR PROGRESS ON STALLED 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. The President today will once again challenge Congress to stand up to the gun lobby and pass common sense gun safety legislation by April 20 -- the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Columbine High School. Specifically, he will call on the Congress to: require background checks at gun shows; mandate the sale of child safety locks with handguns; bar the importation of high capacity ammunition clips; and hold adults accountable if they allow children easy access to loaded guns that are later used to kill or maim. Although Congressional Democrats have urged the Republican leadership to schedule a meeting within the next two weeks to break the logjam, the gun lobby has mobilized against the legislation and all efforts to make progress. The President will reiterate his call for Congressional leaders to work in good faith, work out their differences, and pass this life-saving legislation without further delay.