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May 15, 1999

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“Those who say they can do nothing about this are wrong. By changing the way they do business...by making movies, music, TV programs and video games as if their own children were watching...members of the entertainment industry can make a big difference.”

President Bill Clinton
May 15, 1999

Today, in his weekly radio address, President Clinton outlined measures that the government and media can take to address youth violence. The President criticized the Senate for its refusal to adopt simple measures to keep our children safe from guns, and called on entertainment industries to take steps to reduce our children's exposure to gratuitous violence.

Challenging the Entertainment Industries to Reduce Youth Access to Violence. In his radio address, the President called on those in the entertainment business to think carefully about the content of their products, and make only the movies, TV programs, and video games they would want their own children to watch. The President issued three specific challenges to members of the entertainment industries:

  • Curbing the Use of Guns in Previews and Advertisements. The President issues a challenge to the entertainment industry to stop showing guns in any advertisements and previews children might see. The film industry currently prohibits the depiction of drug use in movie previews viewed by children, on the basis that these images can promote harmful behavior. Images of guns in advertisements and previews seen by children can act in a similar way to increase the allure of these objects.
  • Making the Movie Ratings System Work Better for Parents. The President challenged the movie industry to re-evaluate its ratings system, with a specific focus on the PG-13 rating, to determine whether it is allowing gratuitous violence in movies viewed by children. In a recent national PTA Survey, 80 percent of parents said that they wished the movie ratings system gave clearer information as to a film's level of violence.
  • Limiting Children's Access to Inappropriate Entertainment Through Tougher Enforcement. The President challenged theater and video store owners to strictly and uniformly enforce the R-rating prohibition for underage children by requiring young patrons to show proof of age. Many children now see “R” rated films even though they should not be able to. According to a recent Gallup poll, half of American teens say they have seen an “R” rated movie in the last month, including 42 percent of those aged 13-15.

Challenging the Senate to Pass Common-Sense Gun Laws. Last year, over 4,000 gun shows were held across the country. An estimated 25-50 percent of the sellers at these shows can sell guns to criminals and youth with no questions asked. Twice last week, however, the Senate failed to close this gun show loophole, and in fact created additional dangerous loopholes in our gun laws. Legislation approved by the Senate would:

  • continue to allow some vendors at gun shows to sell guns without background checks;
  • create a new loophole by exempting firearms redemptions at pawnshops from background checks;
  • thwart law enforcement's ability to trace firearms sold at gun shows and later used in crimes; and
  • undermine the effectiveness of background checks by cutting the amount of time the FBI has to complete them from three days to 24 hours.

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