|HUD No. 00-122|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||11 a.m. Friday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||June 2, 2000|
CUOMO AND STREET ANNOUNCE PHILADELPHIA JOINS COMMUNITIES DROPPING LAWSUITS AGAINST SMITH & WESSON
View Agreement with Smith & Wesson
PHILADELPHIA U.S. Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo and Mayor John Street today announced that Philadelphia will join 17 local governments that have dropped lawsuits against Smith & Wesson as a result of a gun safety agreement the gunmaker signed with the Clinton Administration, states and localities.
The historic agreement, signed in March, requires Smith & Wesson to make major changes in the design, distribution and marketing of guns to make them safer and to keep them out of the hands of children and criminals.
"Our agreement with Smith & Wesson will save lives in communities across America," Secretary Cuomo said. "Philadelphias decision to join this agreement is a major step forward that should encourage other gun companies to join Smith & Wesson to produce safer firearms and to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Gunmakers should realize that settling lawsuits filed against them is in their own self-interest as well as the public interest."
Mayor Street said: "This is a watershed moment in the future of gun manufacturing and in the area of handgun safety. Gun manufacturers must acknowledge their responsibility to protect the public health and welfare from the illegal or inappropriate uses of their products. We applaud Smith & Wesson for its commitment to protect our children from the devastation caused by guns on our streets."
The March agreement is the product of negotiations between the White House, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Treasury Department and local governments with Smith & Wesson. The agreement was designed to settle lawsuits already filed against the gun manufacturer and to make new lawsuits unnecessary.
Key provisions of the agreement require Smith & Wesson the nations largest handgun manufacturer to: 1) Install mandatory gun locks and other child-safety devices on all guns. 2) Introduce "smart gun" technology in all newly designed handguns to allow the guns to be fired only by their owners making the guns useless to children and criminals. 3) Bar gun sales including gun show sales without a background check of the buyers. 4) Limit multiple handgun sales. 5) Include hidden serial numbers on guns to make them easier for law enforcement to trace after a crime. 6) Refrain from marketing guns in ways that appeal to children or criminals. 7) Establish a trust fund to implement a public service campaign to inform people about the risk of firearms in the home, proper home storage, the importance of proper gun disposal, and the need to reduce gun violence.
The goal of the agreement is to reduce the toll of gun violence, which each year claims more than 30,000 lives and injures another100,000 people in crimes, accidents and suicides around the United States.
Gun violence is a major problem in the nations public housing developments, which are often located in neighborhoods with the highest crime rate in a community. According to recent HUD study, residents of public housing are more than twice as likely to suffer a firearm-related incident as compared to non-residents. About 3 million low-income people live in public housing.
In response to the Smith & Wesson agreement, officials from more than 411 state and local governments around the nation have joined the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition. Officials in the Coalition sign a pledge saying they support giving favorable consideration to making purchases from gun manufacturers that have adopted gun safety and dealer responsibility standards. The preference applies to comparable weapons available at a comparable price that meet law enforcement agency needs.
A purchase preference by governments for guns
that meet certain standards can act as an incentive to manufacturers to
adopt those standards much as the demand for certain types of cars
by motorists prompts auto makers to make more such vehicles.
Cuomo pointed out that incidents of gun violence in the last few days illustrate the need for other gunmakers to reform their practices. These incidents include: 1) The shooting of a teacher in Lake Worth, FL by a student. If the gun the boy stole from his grandfather had a trigger lock, the tragedy might have been averted. 2) In a public housing development in Chicago, a 12-year-old and his 14-year-old brother were playing with a gun in a hallway, and the 12-year-old was fatally shot. Again, a trigger lock might have made a difference. 3) In Montclair, NJ, authorities uncovered a scheme where two juveniles were buying semiautomatic handguns over the Internet. They passed themselves off as licensed gun dealers using forged federal firearms licenses.
HUD and the Treasury Department entered the
negotiations with Smith & Wesson after President Clinton said his Administration
could support a class action lawsuit by the nations 3,200 public housing
authorities that would be designed to reduce gun violence in public housing
and nearby areas.
A commission made up of two representatives from local governments, one from states, one from Smith & Wesson and one selected by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will oversee the agreement with Smith & Wesson.
The U.S. government will require any additional gun manufacturers joining in the agreement to meet the requirements set for Smith & Wesson, along with additional safety and distribution measures.
Guns manufactured and sold to the military and law enforcement agencies will be granted an exception to the safety features mandated by the new agreement, if the military or law enforcement agencies certify the need.
THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATIONS GUN SAFETY AGENDA
In addition to the landmark gun safety agreement
reached with Smith & Wesson, other parts of the Clinton Administrations
gun safety agenda include:
- A $280 million national firearms enforcement
initiative that is part of the Presidents proposed budget. The initiative
would hire 500 new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents and inspectors
to target gun criminals; hire more than 1,000 prosecutors at all levels
of government; fund expanded crime gun tracing and ballistics imaging systems
to catch more gun criminals; fund local media campaigns to discourage gun
violence; and expand the development of "smart gun" technologies.
- A $30 million Community Gun Safety and Violence
Reduction Initiative that President Clinton proposed in his Fiscal Year
2001 Budget. The initiative, which would be administered by HUD, would
fund computerized mapping of gun violence to help law enforcement agencies
better protect the public, education and outreach programs to promote responsible
safety measures by gun owners, and innovative community activities to reduce
both gun crimes and accidents. Under this initiative, local governments,
law enforcement agencies, public housing authorities, community organizations,
and other groups would be eligible to compete for HUD grants to support
gun violence reduction activities in the communities the Department serves.
Last week, a House committee rejected funding for this program.
- Gun buyback programs around the nation funded
by HUD. So far this year more than 14,000 guns have been collected in 55
cities, with more than 30 gun buybacks planned in the coming months.