Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 28, 2000


Today, President Clinton, joined by District of Columbia Mayor Williams, Metropolitan Police Chief Ramsey, and Housing Secretary Cuomo, will announce a new gun buyback partnership between the District of Columbia and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Under the initiative -- the largest ever in D.C. and one of the largest ever in the country -- $350,000 will be available to purchase an estimated 7,000 guns through a local gun buyback. In addition, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will trace all guns recovered in the buyback.

A total of 85 communities across the country are now participating in the first round of HUD's BuyBack America program to launch similar local gun buyback programs and to take tens of thousands of unwanted guns out of circulation. Today's initiative is part of a comprehensive effort by the Clinton Administration to give communities more tools to reduce gun violence, and to advance common sense gun safety legislation to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

TAKING THOUSANDS OF GUNS OUT OF CIRCULATION IN WASHINGTON. In the wake of the recent shooting at the National Zoo, President Clinton today will announce a major partnership between the federal government and the District of Columbia to fund the largest gun buyback in the city's history. Under today's partnership, HUD's BuyBack America program will provide $100,000 and the Metropolitan Police Department will provide $250,000 to fund the buyback, which will be held June 23rd and 24th. The District of Columbia Public Housing Authority will partner with the Metropolitan Police Department to conduct the buyback, which will take and estimated 7,000 guns off the street and out of circulation permanently. Last August, the Metropolitan Police Department conducted two successful buybacks. The first, funded in part by HUD, yielded 600 guns; the second, 2,300 guns. According to an ATF report on the buybacks, the vast majority of firearms recovered (2,200) were handguns, and far exceeded the District's average annual recovery rate of 2,105 crime guns. Among the firearms recovered were the types of guns often used in crimes and illegally trafficked by unlicensed dealers.

PROVIDING RESOURCES TO FUND BUYBACKS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. A recent study released by HUD shows that people living in public housing are more than twice as likely to suffer from gun-related victimization as the general population. And while gun crime is down by 35 percent since 1992, nearly 12 children are still killed every day by gunfire. To help reduce the toll of gun violence, President Clinton last September unveiled a $15 million HUD gun buyback initiative -- the largest gun buyback program in history. Under the first round of the BuyBack America Initiative, HUD is providing funding to a total of 85 communities to enable Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to partner with local law enforcement agencies to conduct local gun buyback programs. By reducing the number of firearms in circulation, buyback programs can help prevent accidental shootings, gun suicides, gun crime and unauthorized gun use. The HUD buyback program encourages a cap of $50 for each working gun, and encourages PHAs to provide the awards in the form of gift certificates for goods or services rather than cash. Every HUD-sponsored buyback must be run by a local police department -- with no amnesty given for any crimes committed with returned firearms. And to ensure permanent removal from circulation, all guns are destroyed unless they are relevant to an ongoing law enforcement investigation, or they have been stolen from their lawful owner.

WORKING WITH D.C. LAW ENFORCEMENT TO COMBAT GUN CRIME. Today's initiative is another example of efforts by the federal government and the District of Columbia to work together to combat gun crime. Under innovative programs such as Operation Ceasefire, which has received nearly $1 million in federal funding since 1995, local police are partnering with the U.S. Attorney and the ATF to increase gun enforcement and gun crime prevention programs. Also, through the Administration's Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative, local police are working with the ATF to trace all crime guns recovered in the District to crack down on illegal gun traffickers that supply guns to juveniles and criminals.

KEEPING UP PRESSURE TO ENACT COMMON SENSE GUN LEGISLATION. In addition to announcing these new tools to combat gun violence, the President will again emphasize the importance of common sense gun measures that can reduce gun violence by keeping guns out of the wrong hands. Noting that the Congress missed an opportunity to pass gun safety legislation by the April 20th anniversary of the Columbine shootings, the President will urge Congress to complete work on juvenile crime legislation and pass a final bill that closes the gun show loophole, requires child safety locks for handguns, bars the importation of large capacity ammunition clips, and bans violent juveniles from owning guns for life.

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