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April 27, 1999: Working to Keep Guns From Youth and Criminals

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"I think this, in the end, is going to come down to what our conception of America as a community is and what our responsibilities to one another are. We have to redefine the national community so that we have a shared obligation to save children's lives."

President Bill Clinton
April 27, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton announced new legislation to strengthen federal firearms laws and make it more difficult for kids and criminals to gain access to guns and explosives. The President's proposals would strengthen the Brady Law and the assault weapons ban, restrict youth access to guns, and crack down on illegal gun traffickers.

Building on the Success of the Brady Law. Since taking effect in 1994, the Brady Law has prevented over a quarter million felons, fugitives, stalkers, and other prohibited purchasers from buying handguns. The President's legislation would strengthen the Brady Law in the following ways:

  • require Brady background checks prior to the sale of explosives;
  • apply the same prohibitions in our gun laws to the sale of explosives;
  • prohibit convicted felons from purchasing any amount of black powder, which is used to make most pipe bombs;
  • require all explosives dealers to keep records of their sales of black powder;
  • require Brady background checks on firearms transferred at gun shows; and
  • require a minimum 3-day waiting period for all handgun purchases, with up to two additional days if law enforcement officers need more time to clarify arrest records.

Restricting Youth Access to Guns. President Clinton fought for and signed legislation prohibiting juvenile possession of handguns and requiring "zero tolerance" for guns in schools. The President's bill does even more to restrict unauthorized youth access to guns by:

  • permanently banning all violent juveniles from buying guns;
  • raising the age of the youth handgun ban to 21 years of age;
  • banning juvenile possession of semiautomatic assault rifles;
  • holding adults responsible for child access to guns;
  • requiring gun dealers to provide child safety locks with guns; and
  • increasing penalties for transferring handguns to juveniles.

Cracking down on Illegal Gun Traffickers. Over the last two years, the President has proposed hiring more than 280 new ATF agents and over 40 new federal prosecutors to arrest gun traffickers and violent criminals, and crack down on illegal gun sales. He also established the Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative (YCGII) to help identify and arrest illegal gun traffickers who transfer guns to youth and criminals. In addition, this proposal would:

  • limit handgun sales to no more than one per month per individual;
  • require federal gun dealers to report to the ATF the manufacturer, model, and serial number of all used guns sold;
  • increase penalties for illegal gun trafficking; and
  • increase to a total of 74 the number of cities participating in YCGII over the next 4 years.

Strengthening the Assault Weapons Ban. Today's legislation strengthens the assault weapons law by banning the importation of all large capacity ammunition magazines, regardless of when they were manufactured.

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