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June 15, 1999

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“We have stopped over 400,000 dangerous gun sales since 1994 because Congress listened not to the NRA, but to the American people, and passed the Brady bill. This week, Congress has another choice: to strengthen the Brady bill or weaken it.”

President Bill Clinton
June 15, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton announced the findings of a Justice Department report showing that the Brady Law has blocked over 400,000 illegal gun sales since taking effect in 1994. The President challenged the House of Representatives to pass legislation that requires Brady background checks at all gun shows and flea markets; raises the age of handgun ownership from 18 to 21; and includes other common-sense measures already passed by the Senate that will help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and children.

The Success of the Brady Law. President Clinton today released the findings of a study showing that, in less than 5 years, the Brady Law has blocked 400,000 prohibited gun purchasers from buying guns. Two-thirds of these potential purchasers had a previous felony conviction or current felony indictment.

Urging Congress to Strengthen the Brady Law. The President called on House Members to put the interests of the American people over those of the gun lobby and pass effective gun legislation that will:

  • Close the gun show loophole. The President asked Congress to reject the loopholes requested by the gun lobby, such as:
    • Redefining the term “gun show” so that background checks would not be required at flea markets and other venues where hundreds of guns are bought and sold;
    • Reducing the amount of time law enforcement has to complete background checks at gun shows;
    • Creating a new class of “instant check registrants” who would not be required to keep the same records, thereby undermining law enforcement's ability to trace all guns sold at gun shows that are later used in crimes; and
    • Amending the law to allow federal gun dealers to ship guns to unlicensed buyers across state lines.

  • Raise the age of handgun ownership from 18 to 21. Although current law prohibits anyone under 21 from purchasing a handgun from a federally licensed gun shop or pawn shop, it is legal for 18- to 20-year-olds to buy handguns from gun shows, friends, neighbors, private collectors, and other unlicensed sellers. The President urged Congress to close this loophole by making it illegal for 18- to 20-year-olds to possess handguns. Findings from a report released yesterday by the Treasury and Justice Departments on youth gun violence indicate the importance of closing this loophole:
    • 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds ranked first, second and third among all age groups in the number of gun murders committed in 1997. These age groups accounted for nearly one-fourth of known gun murderers;
    • 18- to 20-year-olds were more likely than offenders in any other age group to use a gun to commit a crime; and
    • Crime guns recovered by law enforcement officials were more likely to have been possessed by 19-year-olds than any other age group, with 18-year-olds ranking a close second. Nearly 15 percent of crime guns traced were possessed by 18- to 20-year-olds.

  • Include common-sense gun measures passed by the Senate, including:
    • a requirement that child safety locks be provided with every handgun sold;
    • a total ban on the importation of large capacity ammunition magazines;
    • stiffer penalties for gun traffickers;
    • increased resources for federal firearms prosecutions; and
    • improving law enforcement's ability to trace crime guns to their source.

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