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Statement By The President

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The Briefing Room
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release                              June 21, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

Today?s report by the Treasury Department?s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms (ATF) demonstrates that our Administration is tough on gun
traffickers who peddle guns to criminals and young people.  Between July
1996 and December 1998, ATF initiated more than 1,500 firearms trafficking
investigations, resulting in federal convictions of 812 criminals to a
total of 7,420 years in prison -- with an average sentence of nine years.

Gun trafficking puts thousands of guns onto our nation?s streets and
contributes significantly to our nation?s gun violence problem.  The
investigations documented in today?s report involved the diversion of more
than 84,000 firearms from the legal to illegal market.  The report shows
that loopholes in our laws help make gun shows and corrupt gun dealers
major channels for gun trafficking.  Many of the diverted weapons supplied
by traffickers were later used to commit serious crimes, including
homicides, robberies and assaults.  Each gun put into the hand of a
criminal represents the possibility of one more life lost, one more family

Through tough enforcement and smart prevention, we have reduced gun crime
by 35 percent and increased federal gun prosecutions 16 percent since 1992.
There is more we can do to keep guns out of the wrong hands.  I will
continue to press the Congress to fully fund my $280 million Gun
Enforcement Initiative, to add more ATF agents and inspectors to crack down
on gun traffickers, corrupt gun dealers and armed gun criminals, as well as
hire more federal, state and local gun prosecutors to put more gun
criminals behind bars.  But Congress must also close the deadly loopholes
in our laws that make guns accessible to criminals and children in the
first place. Congress should move forward to close the deadly gun show
loophole once and for all and pass other stalled common sense gun measures
without further delay.


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