"Gun safety cannot be the only area of our national life where we say no to prevention. Colorado is here to say we have lost enough of our children; it's time to have prevention, too, in this important area of our national life."
President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, April 12, 2000
Today, in Denver, Colorado, President Clinton participated in a citizen rally sponsored by SAFE Colorado in support of a statewide ballot initiative to close the gun-show loophole. While commending the leadership that Colorado and other states are demonstrating on gun safety, the President emphasized that federal legislation is needed to address this nationwide problem. He again challenged Congress to put the interests of American families above those of the gun lobby and pass common-sense gun legislation before they recess at the end of this week.
Gun-Show Loophole Allows Easy Access to Firearms. Every year, an estimated 5 million people attend over 4,400 gun shows at convention centers, school gyms, and fairgrounds across our nation. Under a loophole in current law, unlicensed persons may sell guns at these gun shows without performing background checks or keeping records necessary to help police trace a gun used in a crime. These unlicensed persons account for up to 50 percent of all sellers at gun shows, making gun shows a prime location for criminals, juveniles, and other restricted persons to obtain firearms. A study released last year by the Departments of Treasury and Justice documented 314 gun-show investigations linked to over 54,000 crime guns; 46 percent of the investigations involved the purchase or sale of firearms by felons, and 34 percent involved the sale of firearms later used in serious crimes.
Colorado Citizens Taking Action. Last month, citizens working with SAFE Colorado filed a state ballot initiative to close the gun-show loophole after the Colorado state legislature failed to pass gun-show legislation supported by Governor Bill Owens. SAFE (Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic) Colorado is a bipartisan organization that lobbies in support of reasonable gun laws. The ballot initiative is modeled on the Clinton-Gore Administration's gun-show measure that passed the Senate last May, requiring background checks and recordkeeping for all firearms sales at gun shows and providing law enforcement up to three business days to complete background checks. In order to get the initiative onto the ballot this November, SAFE Colorado must collect at least 62,000 signatures by August. A recent survey shows that the initiative has the support of 83 percent of Colorado voters – but the gun lobby has vowed to block the initiative, and its stalling tactics have cut the amount of time available to collect the needed signatures. The President today reminded Colorado citizens of their power to make their voices heard, and urged them to stand up to the gun lobby and its allies.
Calling on Congress to Act Before Recess. President Clinton noted that gun-safety efforts on the state level are making a powerful difference. At the same time, he underscored the importance of a strong national framework for our gun laws. For over nine months, Congress has failed to act on the common-sense gun safety legislation passed by the Senate that would require background checks at gun shows, mandate child safety locks with every handgun sold, ban the importation of large-capacity ammunition clips, and bar the most violent juvenile offenders from owning firearms when they become adults. Just yesterday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Hyde and Representative Conyers sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Hatch, urging him to schedule a meeting to work out their differences on pending gun provisions and to make progress on the legislation. The President again urged Congressional leaders to take action on this legislation before they recess at the end of this week.