|For Immediate Release||June 14, 2000|
Today, the President will urge Congress to fully fund his FY 2001 Gun Enforcement Initiative to take dangerous gun offenders of our streets. Last night, President Clinton sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Young (R-FL) urging the Committee to provide full funding for his initiative - the largest budget ever proposed to strengthen enforcement of our nation's firearms laws. The Committee will vote today on a bill that guts key components of the President's initiative, by failing to include: 1) $150 million for state and local gun prosecutors; 2) $10 million for local anti-gun violence media campaigns; and 3) $10 million to expand research into smart gun technology that can limit a gun's use to its proper adult owner.
HOUSE BILL FAILS TO FUND KEY INVESTMENTS IN GUN ENFORCEMENT. The Republican-led House has stalled passage of common sense gun safety legislation for a year, and instead called for stronger enforcement of existing gun laws. The House Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Subcommittee passed a bill, that fails to provide the gun enforcement resources proposed by the President, and even fails to provide the minimal funding for "Project Exile" efforts recently authorized in a bill sponsored by Representative Bill McCollum (R-FL). While the House appropriations bill includes the President's $15 million request for new federal gun prosecutors, the bill falls short by failing to include critical components of the President's initiative, including:
1,000 state and local gun prosecutors. The bill fails to provide $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 to help put more dangerous gun criminals where they belong -- behind bars. These new prosecutors represent the front line in the fight against gun violence, and Congress should give states and communities the resources they need to fight gun crime.
Local Anti-Gun Violence Media Campaigns. The bill eliminates $10 million in Justice Department matching grants to support local media campaigns on gun violence and gun safety. Targeted media campaigns have been used successfully in programs such as Richmond's "Project Exile" to emphasize tough federal sentences and Boston's "Operation Ceasefire" to make clear the consequences of breaking gun laws.
Innovative "Smart" Gun Technologies. The Administration asked for $10 million - more than double last year's request - for the expansion, testing, and replication of "smart" gun technologies. These state-of-the-art safety innovations could limit a gun's use to its proper 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. The House bill provides no funding for smart gun research.
PRESIDENT CLINTON'S $280 MILLION GUN ENFORCEMENT INITIATIVE. In addition to the proposals under consideration today, the President's Gun Enforcement Initiative includes other elements totaling $94 million that will be taken up by Congress in the coming weeks. These measures include funding for the Treasury Department to: 1) hire 500 new ATF agents and inspectors to crack down on violent gun criminals, illegal gun traffickers, and unscrupulous dealers that supply firearms to criminals and juveniles; 2) implement comprehensive crime gun tracing programs; and 3) build the first-ever national ballistics testing network to help police catch more gun criminals.
COMMON-SENSE GUN MEASURES ARE STILL NEEDED AND LONG OVERDUE. While pursuing an aggressive enforcement budget, the President will continue to call for much-needed reforms to our nation's gun laws to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Despite the continuing occurrence of numerous gun-related tragedies across America - including the National Zoo, schools, places of worship, day care centers and retirement homes - Congress has allowed common sense gun safety legislation to languish for an entire year. The President will urge Congress to put the interests of American families above those of the gun lobby and pass this legislation to require background checks at gun shows; mandate child safety locks for handguns; ban the importation of large capacity ammunition clips; and bar violent juveniles from owning guns for life.
A RECORD OF STRONG GUN ENFORCEMENT. Since 1992, the number of federal firearms cases has increased 16 percent, and as a result of this Administration's unprecedented partnership with states and localities, overall gun prosecutions - federal, state, and local combined - are also up 22 percent. Also since 1992, federal gun offenders are serving sentences that are about two years longer and the number of serious gun offenders sent to federal prison for more than 5 years is up more than 41 percent. Due to our efforts to focus on tough prosecutions, strategic efforts to deter and prevent gun crime, and the passage of strong new gun laws such as the Brady Act, gun-related crime has dropped 35 percent since 1992.
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