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Illegal Gun Trafficking

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"When 12 children are dying every day in America because of gunviolence, we can't wait for congressional action. That's why I'm takingthe actions that I have announced today. Working together, we've broughtcrime down for seven straight years. We can keep going until America isthe safest big country in the world."

President Bill Clinton
Friday, February 4, 2000

Today, at the White House, President Clinton, joined by Treasury SecretaryLawrence Summers, released a new report from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobaccoand Firearms offering the most comprehensive overview ever of the firearmsindustry. The President announced landmark regulatory actions that ATFwill take to bolster enforcement efforts and focus on problem dealers toprevent firearms from getting into the hands of criminals. The Presidentalso announced executive actions to help crack down on problem dealers andhalt illegal firearms trafficking.

GROUNDBREAKING REPORT ON THE FIREARMS INDUSTRY. The Presidentannounced the release of the first annual report on Commerce in Firearmsin the United States. The report provides never-before-released data onthe gun industry and ATF's enforcement of the nation's firearms laws.Some of the report's key findings include:

  • One percent of gun dealers account for 57 percent of crime guntraces;
  • Handguns are the weapons of choice for gun criminals, and account fornearly half of all new gun sales - about 2 million per year; and
  • In 1999, a total of 1,639 gun manufacturers, 81,325 retail gundealers and pawnbrokers and other members of the gun industry sold over4.5 million firearms in the United States.

TAKING EXECUTIVE ACTION TO HALT ILLEGAL GUN TRAFFICKING. ThePresident announced new ATF enforcement actions to prevent guns fromentering the illegal firearms market, including:

  • Conduct focused inspections of the 1,000 gun dealers who had 10 ormore crime guns traced to them;
  • Require the 450 current dealers with 10 or more crime guns traced tothem with a "time-to-crime" of less than three years from the originalsale to provide ATF with information on all used guns offered for sale;
  • Take strong enforcement action against dealers found to be violatingthe law;
  • Work closely with law-abiding gun dealers to develop new proceduresto prevent illegal trafficking;
  • Conduct focused inspections of the 50 dealers with the worst responserecords to gun trace requests, and issue demand letters requiring them toregularly submit all firearms acquisition and disposition records;
  • Focus on stolen firearms by proposing a new rule requiring allfederal firearms licensees to conduct regular inventories and reportdiscrepancies to ATF; and
  • Help the industry increase accountability by providing tomanufacturers a list of firearms they sold that were traced as crime gunsduring the previous year.

WORKING TO REDUCE GUN CRIME. The President highlighted additionalproposals to keep guns out of the wrong hands, including:

  • State-based licensing for all handgun purchasers to ensure that allbuyers are eligible to possess a firearm and know how to safely handle andstore their gun;
  • An unprecedented $280 million gun enforcement initiative to hire 500new ATF agents and inspectors, hire over 1,000 new federal, state andlocal gun prosecutors, and fund comprehensive crime gun tracing andincreased ballistics testing to catch and prosecute more gun criminals;
  • $10 million in the President's budget to support research in "smartgun" technologies that can limit a gun's use to its authorized owner; and
  • Urging Congress to pass common-sense gun legislation that closes thegun show loophole, bans the importation of large capacity ammunitionclips, and requires child safety locks with every handgun sold.

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