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Largest Ever National Gun Enforcement Initiative, January 18, 2000

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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 18, 2000

January 18, 2000

At an event today in Boston, where federal and local partnerships have helped dramatically reduce gun crime, President Clinton will unveil the largest national firearms enforcement initiative in history. He will also announce new figures from the Department of Justice showing increased federal prosecutions of dangerous gun criminals.

The Administration's initiative provides a record $280 million investment in the FY 2001 budget to: 1) add 500 new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents and inspectors to target violent gun criminals and illegal gun traffickers; 2) fund over 1,000 new federal, state, and local gun prosecutors to take dangerous gun offenders off the streets; 3) create the first nationally-integrated ballistics testing system and expand crime gun tracing to help catch more gun criminals; 4) fund local media campaigns to discourage gun violence and send a tough message on penalties for breaking gun laws; and 5) expand development of "smart gun" technologies. The President today will also unveil new data from the Justice Department indicating that federal firearms prosecutions rose 25 percent from 1998 to 1999. Finally, he will call on Congress to enact common sense gun measures that will keep guns out of the wrong hands and make our communities safer.

SWEEPING INITIATIVE TO CRACK DOWN ON GUN CRIMINALS. President Clinton today will unveil budget plans for an unprecedented initiative on gun enforcement. The plan includes funding for:

  • 500 New ATF Agents and Inspectors. The Presidentís initiative includes the largest-ever increase to the ATF for firearms enforcement, including 500 new ATF agents and inspectors. The agents will crack down on violent gun criminals and illegal gun traffickers at gun shows, gun stores and on the street. The firearms inspectors, whose numbers are doubled by this funding, will target unscrupulous gun dealers who supply guns to criminals and juveniles.
  • Over 1,000 Federal, State, and Local Gun Prosecutors. The Presidentís initiative will fund more than 1,000 new federal, state and local prosecutors to incarcerate gun criminals:
  • 1,000 state and local gun prosecutors. The initiative provides $150 million to hire 1,000 more state and local gun prosecutors. The new prosecutors will work closely with the community, law enforcement, and federal prosecutors on gun-related crimes.
  • Over 100 additional federal gun prosecutors and new enforcement teams. The initiative will fund nearly 100 more federal gun prosecutors in the offices of U.S. Attorneys. The initiative also funds 20 gun enforcement teams in high gun crime areas, enabling 20 cities to replicate Bostonís comprehensive anti-crime strategy, "Operation Ceasefire." These teams will coordinate enforcement efforts and maximize tough federal sentencing laws against armed career criminals and illegal gun traffickers.
  • Comprehensive Crime Gun Tracing. Boston's "Operation Ceasefire" and the Boston Gun Project have brought federal, state and local law enforcement together to trace crime guns and identify and arrest illegal gun traffickers. The Administration's Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative was launched to replicate the Boston model, and today the President will announce that his budget expands this initiative from 38 cities to 50 cities. Today's initiative will also help more cities crack down on illegal traffickers by providing funds for tracing equipment and training to 250 state and local law enforcement agencies.
  • New Initiative on Ballistics Testing. The Administrationís FY 2001 budget request will triple current ballistics testing funding by investing $30 million to create the first ever National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN). This system will help law enforcement use the unique "fingerprints" of bullets or shell casings left at the scene of a crime to identify criminals and illegal gun traffickers -- even in the absence of a firearm. Ballistics testing programs at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and ATF have already helped advance over 16,000 criminal investigations of gun crimes in over 40 states. This initiative will link these two systems for the first time, and, within two years, will triple the number of law enforcement jurisdictions with access to nearly one million ballistics images.
  • Local Anti-Gun Violence Media Campaigns. The Presidentís initiative will provide $10 million in Justice Department matching grants to support local media campaigns on gun violence and gun safety. Campaigns would be linked to local gun violence strategies to publicize gun penalties and to maximize deterrence, as well as to highlight proper storage of guns and child access prevention. Targeted campaigns have been used successfully in Richmondís "Project Exile" to emphasize lengthy federal sentences, and in Boston to make clear the consequences of breaking gun laws.
  • Innovative "Smart" Gun Technologies. The President will also propose $10 million -- more than double last yearís request -- for the expansion, testing and replication of "smart" gun technologies. These state-of-the-art safety innovations could limit a gunís use to its owner or other authorized users -- and could therefore prevent accidental shooting deaths of children, deter gun theft, and stop criminals from seizing and using the guns of police officers against them.
  • NEW DATA SHOW THAT FEDERAL FIREARMS PROSECUTIONS ARE UP. Today, the President will also highlight new data from the Justice Department showing the results of bolstered efforts by federal prosecutors to put serious gun criminals behind bars. From 1998 to 1999, the number of federal firearms cases prosecuted by U.S. Attorneys increased 25 percent, from 4,391 cases in 1998 to 5,500 cases in 1999. Tough prosecutions, strategic efforts to deter and prevent gun crime, and the passage of strong new gun laws such as the Brady Act, have together led to a more than 35 percent drop in gun-related crime since 1992 and a 57 percent decrease in juvenile gun homicide offenders since 1993.

    COMMON-SENSE GUN MEASURES ARE STILL NEEDED AND LONG OVERDUE. In addition to pursuing an aggressive enforcement budget, the President will continue to call for much-needed reforms to our nationís gun laws to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Among the common-sense measures he will call on Congress to enact: requiring background checks at gun shows, mandating child safety locks for handguns, banning the importation of large capacity ammunition clips, and banning violent juveniles from owning guns for life.

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