WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new $15 million federal gun buyback plan
will get guns off the streets and may save children's lives,
President Clinton said today.
The program will give local police departments up to $500,000 to
buy guns in and around public housing projects for a "suggested
price" of $50. The guns will be destroyed, the White House said.
Clinton twice recited this statistic to a White House audience
of mayors and police chiefs: American children under 15 are nine
times more likely to die by accidental shooting than children in
the other 25 industrialized nations combined.
"Every gun turned in through a buyback program means
potentially one less tragedy," Clinton said.
Clinton, accompanied by Attorney General Janet Reno and other
Cabinet officials, also announced $147 million in federal community
policing grants to help hire 1,600 new police officers nationwide.
Clinton also urged Congress to pass laws to restrict gun sales
at flea market-style gun shows, stop imports of some kinds of
high-capacity ammunition clips and require childproof locks on
The Clinton administration calls those initiatives modest,
commonsense ideas, and note that they have broad support from
police and local officials.
"We have heard from our citizens and they want action. Congress
must respond," said Denver Mayor Wellington Webb as he introduced
The White House also released reports today that Clinton says
show the effectiveness of administration anti-crime efforts. An
update on the Brady gun control law's "instant check" system,
which began last November, claims that federal authorities have
stopped an estimated 700,000 illegal gun sales.
The administration calculates that the $15 million buyback
program should bring in close to 300,000 guns. The money will go to
individual public housing authorities, which will work out the
buyback plans with local police, the White House said.
The administration will suggest that housing authorities hand
out gift certificates for goods or services rather than cash, the
White House said.
The buyback plan is modeled on local programs in cities such as
Washington and New York.
The District of Columbia bought 2,306 guns during an
experimental two-day offer last month. That no-questions-asked
program took in guns from across the city, not only from
neighborhoods near housing projects.
As with the Washington program, the national buyback offer would
not include amnesty for any crimes committed with the guns.
District of Columbia police are running ballistics tests on the gun
haul now, and will try to match guns to crimes and crimes to
Andrew Cuomo, secretary of housing and urban development, said
the national buyback program will give flexibility to mayors to
tailor the program to specific needs.
The Brady law and other gun-control laws are having success in
keeping new guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them,
Cuomo said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"We have 200 million guns in this country. We have to reduce
that number," Cuomo said. Buying back the guns -- people who have
guns in the home who don't want them ... is one way to do it."