|HUD No. 00-56|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Noon Friday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||March 17, 2000|
CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS REACH BREAKTHROUGH GUN SAFETY AGREEMENT WITH SMITH & WESSONView the Smith & Wesson Agreement
WASHINGTON - The Clinton Administration and state and local governments today reached a breakthrough agreement with America's largest gun manufacturer - Smith & Wesson - under which the company agrees to make major changes in the design, distribution and marketing of guns to make them safer and to help keep them out of the hands of children and criminals.
The agreement requires Smith & Wesson to: 1) Install mandatory gun locks and other child-safety devices on all guns. 2) Introduce "smart gun" technology in all newly designed handguns. 3) Bar gun sales - including gun show sales - without a background check of the buyer. 4) Limit multiple handgun sales.
The agreement was signed for the Clinton Administration by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo and Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers. Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart Eizenstat and Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder participated in the announcement of the signing.
In addition, the agreement was signed by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on behalf of their states.
Representatives of cities and counties that have filed lawsuits against gun manufacturers also approved the agreement, pledging to drop their lawsuits against Smith & Wesson in exchange for the company's landmark reforms. Cities and counties initially signing the agreement were: Miami-Dade County, FL; Los Angeles, Inglewood, San Francisco and Berkeley in California; Bridgeport, CT; Atlanta, GA; Camden, NJ; St. Louis, MO; Detroit, MI; and Gary, IN. More could sign in the future.
Smith & Wesson President and CEO L.E. Shultz signed the agreement for the company.
The U.S. government will require any additional gun manufacturers joining in the agreement to meet all the requirements set for Smith & Wesson, with the possibility of some additional concessions.
The agreement is the product of negotiations between HUD, the Treasury Department and local governments with Smith & Wesson that were designed to settle lawsuits already filed against Smith & Wesson and to make new ones unnecessary.
"This is a historic agreement that will save lives," Secretary Cuomo said. "Smith & Wesson has acted responsibly and in the best interests of the American people by agreeing to adopt common-sense measures to reduce gun violence across the country."
"As a result of this breakthrough agreement, fewer parents will have to bury their children," Secretary Summers said. "The agreement is a great example of the public and private sectors coming together to move the country forward on what is our most critical public safety issue."
The agreement is designed to reduce the toll of gun violence, which each year claims more than 30,000 lives and injures another 100,000 people in crimes, accidents and suicides around the United States.
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.
The Oversight Commission will have the power to notify Smith & Wesson of any gun dealer violations. This notification will trigger penalties against gun dealers by Smith & Wesson and the Commission that could include barring dealers from selling Smith & Wesson products. Smith & Wesson will also take action, including suspension or termination, against dealers responsible for a disproportionate number of crime gun traces. This provision is designed to focus industry attention on the relatively small number of current dealers that are the source of many guns used in crimes. An estimated 57 percent of guns used in crimes are sold by just 1.2 percent of dealers.
Under the agreement, all guns must have child safety devices, include internal locks, hidden serial numbers and pass stringent performance tests.
Smith & Wesson will also devote 2 percent of revenues to develop "smart gun" technology and will equip all newly designed guns with such technology within three years. "Smart guns" can only be fired by an authorized person, making them useless in the hands of thieves or children who could get hold of guns.
Other provisions of the agreement, which apply to Smith & Wesson and its dealers include requirements that:
- No sales can be made until the buyer passes a background check.
- Guns cannot be marketed to appeal to children or criminals.
- No sales can be made at a gun show unless background checks are performed for all sales.
- A purchaser can take home only one gun at the time of purchase and must wait two weeks to pick up additional guns. This is designed to prevent illegal traffickers from buying large quantities of guns.
- Within six months, packaging of new guns must include a warning on the risk of having a firearm in the home and suggestions for safe storage.
- Gun stores must have a security plan and guns and bullets must be kept locked and separated.
- Gun dealer employees must complete annual training and pass an exam.
- Distributors can only sell to other distributors or dealers that agree to abide by the agreement.
- Smith & Wesson agrees to work with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to establish a system for firing each gun it makes and entering digital images of the casings into the National Integrated Ballistics Identification (NIBIN) system and accessible by ATF. This will make it easier for law enforcement to trace bullet casings used in crimes back to the guns that fired them.
- Establishment of a trust fund by Smith & Wesson to implement a public service campaign to inform people about the risk of firearms in the home, proper home storage, the importance of proper disposal and need to reduce gun violence.
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.
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 nation's 3,200 public housing authorities that would be designed to reduce gun violence in public housing and nearby areas. About 3 million low-income people live in public housing.
Cuomo said months ago that HUD would seek to help negotiate a settlement to achieve the objectives of such a lawsuit.
Gun violence is a major problem in the nation's public housing developments, which are often located in neighborhoods with the highest crime rate in a community. In the nation's 100 largest public housing authorities alone, there are an estimated 10,000 gun crimes each year and an average of more than one murder per day by gunfire.
Other parts of the Clinton Administration's gun safety agenda include:
- A $280 million national firearms enforcement initiative that is part of the President's proposed budget. The initiative would hire 500 new ATF 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. If Congress approves funding for the 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.
- Gun buyback programs around the nation funded by HUD. So far this year nearly $2.6 million in HUD funds have been awarded for buybacks of about 50,000 guns in 80 cities.