THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 21, 2000
PRESIDENT CLINTON HIGHLIGHTS FIRST COMPREHENSIVE
GUN TRAFFICKING REPORT AND EFFORTS TO CRACK DOWN ON GUN TRAFFICKERS
June 21, 2000
Today, President Clinton will highlight the release of the nation's first-ever comprehensive gun trafficking report, "Following the Gun: Enforcing Federal Laws Against Firearms Traffickers." This Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) report documents that of 1,500 ATF trafficking investigations, more than 84,000 guns were diverted to the illegal market and were often later used by criminals to commit violent crimes. In addition, the report shows that investigations involving gun shows and corrupt gun dealers involved the highest numbers of trafficked guns -- providing further evidence of the need to strengthen our gun laws. In response to these findings, the President will renew his call on Congress to pass stalled common sense gun safety legislation that would require background checks at gun shows and to provide law enforcement with more tools to crack down on gun trafficking, corrupt gun dealers and other armed criminals by funding his $280 million National Gun Enforcement Initiative.
RELEASING FIRST-EVER GUN TRAFFICKING REPORT. Today's report documents 1,530 ATF firearms trafficking investigations conducted from July 1996 to December 1998. While the report shows a strong record of enforcement against traffickers, it also shows the need to strengthen our gun laws to reduce access to illegal guns in the first place. Key findings include:
- ATF trafficking investigations led to the prosecutions of more than 1,700 defendants. Of the cases fully adjudicated by the report's release, 812 defendants were sentenced in federal court to a total of 7,420 years in prison, with an average sentence of nine years.
- Many trafficking investigations involved armed violent criminals. Nearly 45 percent of the investigations involved convicted felons in various roles, and a quarter of the traffickers themselves were convicted felons.
- Gun shows and corrupt gun dealers were primary channels for illegal guns. While illegal guns often pass through multiple trafficking channels, the report confirms that corrupt gun dealers and gun shows present challenges to enforcement. Although gun dealers were involved in less than 10 percent of the investigations, they were associated with the largest total number of diverted firearms (over 40,000 guns) and the highest average number of guns per investigation (350). Gun shows had the second highest number of trafficked guns per investigation (more than 130) and were associated with over 26,000 diverted guns.
- Over half of the trafficking investigations involved guns later used in crimes. Today's report provides further evidence of the deadly link between criminal gun trafficking and violent crime. Of the investigations where diverted firearms were later used in crimes, over 25 percent involved assaults, 17 percent involved homicides, and more than 16 percent involved robberies. In addition, over 40 percent of the cases involved convicted felons and over 14 percent involved juveniles.
FIGHTING TO CLOSE DEADLY LOOPHOLES WITH STRONGER GUN LAWS. In response to the findings of the report, the President will renew his call on Congress to reduce access to illegal guns by enacting the common sense gun safety legislation that passed the Senate last year. This legislation would curtail access to illegal guns and help prevent gun violence by: closing the gun show loophole; mandating child safety locks with every handgun sold; banning the importation of high capacity ammunition clips; and barring the most violent juvenile offenders from ever possessing firearms as adults. Despite numerous gun-related tragedies across America - at the National Zoo, in schools, places of worship, day care centers and nursing homes - the Congress has buckled to the gun lobby and stalled passage of these measures for more than one year. The President will call upon the Congress to put the public safety interests of American families ahead of those of the gun lobby and pass these lifesaving measures without delay.
PUSHING TO ENACT THE LARGEST NATIONAL GUN ENFORCEMENT INITIATIVE IN HISTORY. In order to help law enforcement build on their successful efforts to crack down on gun traffickers and other gun criminals, the President has urged Congress to fully fund his unprecedented $280 million Gun Enforcement Initiative to: 1) hire 500 new ATF firearms agents and inspectors to target violent gun criminals, gun traffickers and corrupt gun dealers; 2) fund over 1,000 new federal, state and local gun prosecutors to take dangerous gun criminals off of the streets; 3) create the first national ballistics testing network and expand crime gun tracing to help identify more gun criminals; 4) fund local media campaigns to discourage gun violence and send a tough message on penalties for breaking gun laws; and 5) expand the development and expansion of "smart gun" technology. Unfortunately last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved a Justice Department spending bill that guts key components of the President's initiative, by failing to include $150 million for state and local gun prosecutors, and funding for local anti-gun violence media campaigns and smart gun research.