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September 9, 1999

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PRESIDENT CLINTON:
WORKING TO PROTECT COMMUNITIES FROM GUN VIOLENCE

"No one asks you when you're a victim of a crime whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. It is an American issue beyond the confines of the Capital City and it should become America's cause as Congress returns to work."

President Bill Clinton
Thursday, September 9, 1999

Today at the White House, President Clinton, joined by mayors and police chiefs from across the nation, urged Congress to help keep our communities safe from gun violence by quickly passing common-sense gun legislation The President also unveiled new reports showing the effectiveness of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System; a $15 million gun buy-back initiative; and nearly $147 million in COPS grants to help communities hire an additional 1,600 police officers for our streets and schools.

Keeping Guns out of the Wrong Hands President Clinton announced the findings of two new reports by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms showing the importance of the Brady background checks and cooperation in enforcement of our gun laws:

  • National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Report. In its first seven months of operation, the NICS conducted over 4.7 million background checks and blocked an estimated 100,000 prohibited gun sales bringing the total number of sales stopped to felons, fugitives, and other prohibited persons to over 400,000 since the Brady Law took effect. Key findings of this report include:
    • The vast majority of background checks are completed swiftly over 75 percent within 30 seconds, 95 percent within 2 hours When a check cannot be completed within 24 hours, the individual being checked is nearly 20 times more likely to be a felon or other prohibited buyer than the average purchaser;
    • Of sales denied by the FBI, 76 percent were based on a felony conviction; 11 percent for domestic violence misdemeanors or restraining orders; and
    • If the FBI had only 24 hours to do a background check, as some in Congress are proposing, instead of 3 business days under current law, 20,000 prohibited purchasers over 41 percent of FBI denials would have received guns.
  • ATF Enforcement Report. This report details the way the ATF, FBI, and local law enforcement work together to ensure effective and thorough enforcement of the Brady Law. Since the NICS took effect, the ATF has opened over 1,000 criminal investigations involving individuals who have illegally attempted to purchase firearms -- over 200 of which have been referred to U.S. attorneys for federal prosecution.
Giving Communities Tools to Reduce Gun Violence. The President announced two important initiatives to help communities combat crime and gun violence:
  • a $15 million HUD initiative to help create nationwide community gun buy-back programs, which are expected to remove up to 300,000 guns from circulation by the end of the year; and
  • over $146 million in Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants to fund nearly 1,600 additional officers on our streets and in our schools.
Fighting for Common-Sense Gun Legislation. The President renewed his call on Congress to pass sensible gun legislation supported by a bipartisan coalition of mayors and police chiefs. The President urged Congress to complete work on juvenile crime legislation and pass a bill that includes the common-sense gun provisions passed in the Senate to close the gun show loophole, require child safety locks for handguns, block the importation of large-capacity ammunition clips, and ban violent juveniles from owning guns for life.


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