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Highlighting the Need to Strengthen Our Gun Laws - 6/21/2000

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Wednesday, June 21, 2000

June 21, 2000

"Today's report demonstrates that our Administration is tough on gun traffickers who peddle guns to criminals and young people. But Congress must also close the deadly loopholes in our laws that make guns accessible to criminals and children in the first place."

President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, June 21, 2000

Today, President Clinton highlighted the release of the nation's first-ever comprehensive gun trafficking report. The report shows that of 1,500 ATF trafficking investigations, more than 84,000 guns were diverted to the illegal market and were often later used by criminals to commit violent crimes. In addition, the report shows that gun shows and corrupt gun dealers were major sources of trafficked guns - providing further evidence of the need to strengthen our gun laws. In response to these findings, the President renewed his call on Congress to pass stalled common-sense gun safety legislation and to provide law enforcement with more tools to crack down on gun trafficking, corrupt gun dealers, and other armed criminals by funding his National Gun Enforcement Initiative.

RELEASING THE FIRST-EVER GUN TRAFFICKING REPORT. Today's report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, entitled Following the Gun: Enforcing Federal Laws Against Firearms Traffickers, documents 1,530 ATF firearms trafficking investigations conducted from July 1996 to December 1998. While the report shows a strong record of enforcement against traffickers, it also shows the need to strengthen our gun laws to reduce access to illegal guns in the first place. Key findings include:

  • ATF trafficking investigations have led to the prosecutions of more than 1,700 defendants;
  • Many trafficking investigations involved armed violent criminals;
  • Gun shows and corrupt gun dealers were primary channels for illegal guns; and
  • Over half of the trafficking investigations involved guns later used in crimes.

WORKING TO CLOSE DEADLY LOOPHOLES WITH STRONGER GUN LAWS. In response to the findings of the report, the President renewed his call on Congress to enact the gun safety legislation passed by the Senate last year, which would curtail access to illegal guns and help prevent gun violence by:

  • Closing the gun show loophole;
  • Mandating child safety locks with every handgun sold;
  • Banning the importation of high-capacity ammunition clips; and
  • Barring the most violent juvenile offenders from ever possessing firearms as adults.

PUSHING TO ENACT THE LARGEST NATIONAL GUN ENFORCEMENT INITIATIVE IN HISTORY. In order to help law enforcement build on their successful efforts to crack down on gun traffickers and other gun criminals, the President urged Congress to fully fund his unprecedented $280 million Gun Enforcement Initiative to:

  • Hire 500 new ATF firearms agents and inspectors to target gun criminals, gun traffickers and corrupt gun dealers;
  • Fund over 1,000 new federal, state and local gun prosecutors to take dangerous gun criminals off the streets;
  • Create the first national ballistics testing network and expand crime gun tracing to help identify more gun criminals;
  • Fund media campaigns to discourage gun violence and send a tough message on penalties for breaking gun laws;
  • Expand the development and expansion of "smart gun" technology.

Unfortunately, the House Appropriations Committee last week approved a spending bill that guts key components of the President's initiative by failing to include $150 million for state and local gun prosecutors, and funding for local anti-gun violence media campaigns and smart gun research.

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