Date sent: Thu, 27 May 1999 22:00:08 -0500 From: Steve Tucker <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Guns [was Re: property Rights] To: firstname.lastname@example.org Send reply to: email@example.com
> I came across this today....
> Why does the fed gov't push for new laws when it doesn't enforce the ones it
> already has?
> - Steve
> Gun Groups Press For Enforcement
> By SALLY BUZBEE / Associated Press Writer
> WASHINGTON (AP) -- Gun murders in Richmond, Va., fell by 41 percent after
> prosecutors there started an effort to put any felon caught carrying a gun in
> prison for five years.
> So why doesn' t the Clinton administration follow that model nationwide, the
> National Rifle Association and other gun control opponents want to know. Federal
> prosecutors could crack down on gun crime by enforcing the laws already on the
> books, rather than pushing for new ones, they say.
> As Congress debates a slate of gun control proposals that gained support from
> lawmakers after the Littleton, Colo., high school shootings, the question of
> whether the federal government does enough to enforce those existing laws has
> re-emerged as a key dispute. Republicans were expected to grill Clinton
> administration officials on the issue at a hearing today.
> " You can talk about the culture of violence for the next 10 years. Unless you
> start prosecution, you' re never going to cut the culture of violence, " said Glen
> Caroline, director of the NRA' s grassroots division.
> Since President Clinton took office, federal prosecutions of gun-related crimes
> have dropped more than 40 percent, the NRA says. The nation has a zero-tolerance
> policy against young people bringing guns to school, for example, yet the federal
> government prosecuted just eight children for that in the last two years, says
> James Baker, the group' s chief lobbyist.
> But the Clinton administration says gun groups use the wrong statistics, looking
> only at the drop in prosecutions since 1992, when violent crime overall and thus
> prosecutions began to drop after historic highs.
> Gun groups also ignore the recent federal efforts to work with local police to
> prevent illegal gun sales, and to go after those who commit crimes with guns and
> the dealers who illegally supply them, the administration says.
> " It is disingenuous for them to criticize when they are looking at the wrong
> numbers," said Justice Department spokesman Brian Steel, who says federal, state
> and local prosecutions combined are on the increase.
> In addition, federal laws often are meant more to prevent gun violence -- by
> keeping felons from buying guns, for example -- than as tools for prosecutors. The
> Brady Law' s instant background checks have prevented 250, 000 felons from buying
> guns, Steel says.
> And some crimes, such as those by teen-agers and children, are simply better
> handled by local authorities, said Attorney General Janet Reno, herself a former
> state attorney from Dade County, Fla. Nevertheless, officials do plan to review "
> just what needs to be done with state and local authorities to ensure the
> appropriate prosecution of these cases, " she said last week.
> Even gun-control advocates, however, say more could be done. The Bureau of Alcohol,
> Tobacco and Firearms should be more aggressive in putting out of business any
> licensed gun dealer who breaks federal rules, says Douglas Weil, research director
> for the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence.
> The program begun in Richmond, called Project Exile and praised by the NRA in
> newspaper ads and before Congress, has dominated much of the debate. Rochester,
> N.Y., also has signed on.
> Clinton praised the program in a March radio address with Richmond' s police chief
> at his side, but the NRA complains that the Clinton administration isn' t providing
> money to duplicate the effort nationwide.
> " We want to give cities the flexibility to do whatever works in their community, "
> Steel said. " Richmond had a particular problem with convicted felons getting guns.
> Boston had a problem with gangs. They used different strategies, and they both had
> Indeed, the Boston program that started in 1995, tracing where young criminals got
> their guns, became a precursor of the ATF effort to trace guns used in juvenile
> crime -- a program Clinton is expanding.
> A bill the Senate passed last week includes a measure that would revoke gun
> ownership rights for anyone convicted as a juvenile of a firearms crime, would
> institute new background checks at gun shows and pawn shops and would require that
> safety devices be sold with all new handguns. The House is expected to take up
> similar proposals in mid-June.
> Yet even as lawmakers consider such new restrictions, some insist the focus should
> be on enforcement, perhaps by giving more money to police and to federal
> prosecutors or to gun-safety education programs.
> " To really maximize our impact ... we' ve got to prosecute the laws we' ve got, "
> said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
Let's both prosecute our present laws and pass these proposed ones.