THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON TO PARTICIPATE IN LAUNCHING MARYLAND'S LANDMARK NEW GUN SAFETY LAW April 11, 2000
Today President Clinton will visit Annapolis, Maryland, where Governor Parris Glendening will sign common-sense gun safety legislation that will require built-in child safety locks on handguns, ballistics testing for newly manufactured handguns to help solve more gun crimes, and safety training for gun purchasers. The visit highlights the growing number of states that are enacting new laws to prevent gun violence. The President will also underscore the importance of strong national gun laws, and urge Congress to follow the lead of states such as Maryland by putting the interests of American families above those of the gun lobby and passing the common sense gun safety legislation that has been stalled for over nine months.
HIGHLIGHTING STATE PROGRESS TOWARD COMMON SENSE GUN LAWS. Maryland joins a growing number of States that are making guns safer and keeping guns out of the wrong hands. In Massachusetts, regulations requiring that all handguns sold in the state meet quality and safety standards including child-proofing features, tamper-proof serial numbers and consumer safety warnings have taken effect. In Colorado, citizens are working to push a ballot initiative to close the gun show loophole that has the support of 83 percent of the voters. Meanwhile, 68 cities and local governments across the country are taking efforts to support manufacturers that adopt safe gun and dealers responsibility standards.
UNDERSCORING THE NEED FOR STRONG NATIONAL GUN SAFETY LAWS. While states are making important progress to reduce gun violence, national gun safety legislation is still needed. A patchwork of inconsistent state gun laws allows criminals to obtain guns by exploiting loopholes in states with weaker laws to commit crimes in states with stronger laws. And, Congress can pass life-saving new gun laws far more quickly than all 50 states.
That is why the President today will again call on Congress to pass common sense gun legislation requiring background checks at gun shows, mandating child safety locks for handguns, banning the importation of large capacity ammunition clips, and barring violent juveniles from owning guns for life. Last year, the Senate passed strong gun safety measures, with Vice President Gore's critical tie-breaking vote, on an amendment to close the gun show loophole. However, the Republican leadership has allowed this life-saving legislation to languish for more than 9 months -- despite bipartisan House and Senate votes in the last few weeks in favor of taking prompt action to move forward on gun legislation and the underlying juvenile justice bill. The President will call on Congress to follow the lead of States like Maryland and pass common-sense legislation by April 20, the one-year anniversary of the Columbine tragedy.
PAVING THE WAY FOR LIFESAVING GUN LEGISLATION. Below is a sample of common-sense gun measures proposed or already in force in states and communities across the country:
Child Safety Lock Laws. Last year, the Senate passed legislation to require child safety locks to be sold with every new handgun. Six states have laws requiring child safety locks or trigger locks: Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Maryland is the first state to pass a law requiring "integrated" locks onto handguns.
Ballot Initiatives. In addition to legislation, some states will consider gun proposals through statewide referenda this year. Utah will consider a ballot initiative to ban concealed weapons from churches and schools. Colorado and Oregon will consider ballot to close the gun show loophole and require background checks on all sales at gun shows.
Local Gun Buybacks. Communities across the country have engaged in local gun buybacks to take guns out of circulation and prevent gun violence, including New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Thanks to a $15 million gun buyback program launched by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last year, nearly 80 public housing authorities across the country have committed to conducting buybacks with local law enforcement.
Local Procurement Power to Promote Responsible Industry Practices. A total of 68 cities, counties, and State Attorneys General have agreed, in their law enforcement gun purchases, to support gun manufacturers that adopt safe gun and dealer responsibility standards. Communities that have made this pledge include San Francisco; Los Angeles; Bridgeport, CT; District of Columbia; Atlanta; Gary, IN; New Orleans; Boston; Detroit and Flint, MI; St. Louis; Albany and Buffalo, NY; Philadelphia; and Richmond, VA.
In 1999 California enacted a comprehensive set of new gun safety laws. These include new safety standards banning the sale of "junk guns," and a new law requiring that all guns be sold with child safety locks. Last year the state also enacted new laws limiting handgun purchases to 1 per person per month and passed the most expansive assault weapon laws in the country. California also requires a waiting period of 10 days for any firearm, registers assault weapons and maintains records of handgun transfers. California child access prevention laws make it a crime to leave a loaded weapon within reach or easy access of a child under 16. This year, the State Assembly also approved legislation requiring gun buyers to demonstrate they can safely operate the weapons.
Since 1992, violent crime in California has dropped by 25 percent and firearm-related deaths are down by 26 percent.
Connecticut requires gun purchasers to complete a safety-training course and receive a permit to purchase a handgun. Dealers must offer trigger locks for sale at the time of purchase. The state registers firearms, including information about both the buyer and seller. The minimum age for possession of a handgun is 21. Connecticut has child access prevention laws making it a felony to leave a loaded firearm within easy access of a child under 16. Connecticut recently barred issuing handgun permits to persons convicted of serious juvenile offenses.
Since 1992, violent crime rates have fallen by 21 percent in Connecticut and the number of firearm-related deaths is down by nearly 31 percent.
Florida places a 3-day waiting period for the purchase of handguns. In 1998, Florida voters passed a constitutional revision allowing counties to require background checks and waiting periods for gun show sales. In 1989, Florida was the first state in the country to pass a child access prevention law making it a crime to leave a loaded firearm within the reach or easy access of a child under 16 years old.
Since 1992, the violent crime rate in Florida has dropped by 8 percent and the number of firearm-related deaths is down by over 10 percent.
Hawaii requires gun purchasers to complete a safety-training course and receive a permit to purchase any firearm. Handguns are required to meet certain safety and performance standards in order to be sold. Hawaii law sets the minimum age for possession of a handgun at 21. Hawaii also has the broadest child access prevention laws in the nation that make it illegal to leave a firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, within the reach or easy access of a child under 16 years old. All firearms in Hawaii must be registered. This year, the Hawaii Senate also passed a bill that would include a gun owner's ID card system and require the re-registration of all firearms. The House would require all registered firearm owners to provide their local chief of police with a list of all firearms currently in their possession.
The firearms-related death rate in Hawaii is more than seven points below the national rate. The number of firearms-related deaths has dropped by 37 percent since 1994.
Maryland has a seven-day waiting period for handgun purchases and limits handgun purchases to one per month. The state police maintain permanent transaction records of all sales. The minimum age for possession of a handgun is 21 and it is a misdemeanor to leave a loaded gun within reach or easy access of a child under 16 years old. Handguns sold in Maryland are required to meet safety and performance standards that ban the sales of "junk guns." This year, the Maryland Legislature has passed and Governor Glendening will sign a bill that requires built-in child safety locks on handguns, ballistics testing for newly manufactured handguns to help solve more gun crimes, and safety training for gun purchasers.
Since 1992, the violent crime rate in Maryland has dropped by 12 percent and the number of firearm-related deaths is down by 6 percent.
New Massachusetts regulations require all handguns sold in the state to meet quality and safety standards including child-proof features, tamper-proof serial numbers and consumer safety warnings. In addition, in 1998 the state passed quality standards that ban the sale of "junk guns" and access prevention laws that make it illegal to leave a firearm unless it is equipped with a tamper-resistant safety device or is stored in a securely locked container. Massachusetts also increased the minimum age for purchase of a handgun to 21. In order to purchase any firearm, a buyer must first get a Firearm Identification Card (FID) and all rifles, shotguns and firearms purchased in the state must be registered. New residents must also register firearms.
Since 1992, the violent crime rate in Massachusetts has declined by 16 percent and the number of firearm-related deaths is down by 24 percent.
New Jersey requires gun buyers to obtain a permit and requires that child safety locks be sold with all guns. Handguns must also be registered at the point of purchase. New Jersey law prevents storing a loaded firearm within reach or easy access of a child under 16 years old.
Since 1992, the violent crime rate in New Jersey is down 19 percent and the number of firearm-related deaths is down by 3 percent.
[Sources: FBI 1992 and 1997 Uniform Crime Index; Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 7/99; Bureau of Justice Statistics, Survey of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales, 3/2000]