|HUD No. 00-57|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Saturday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||March 18, 2000|
HUD PREFERS GUN PURCHASES FROM COMPANIES ADHERING TO CODE OF CONDUCT, CALLS ON MAYORS TO UNITE IN PREFERENCE FOR THE COMPANIES
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced he will direct the nation's 3,200 public housing authorities to give preference in their gun purchases to any gun makers that adopt a new code of responsible conduct. The new code, agreed upon Friday by Smith & Wesson and the Clinton Administration, will make guns safer and keep them out of the hands of children and criminals.
In addition to covering gun purchases by housing authorities, Cuomo's directive - to be implemented by regulation - will encourage the authorities to apply the same requirement to private subcontractors that provide security at housing developments.
The agreement was signed Friday by state and local governments along with Smith & Wesson and the Clinton Administration. Purchases by housing authorities will have to be made consistent with all local, state and federal procurement laws and regulations.
In addition, Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penales, and Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell today joined Cuomo in calling on local governments around the nation to issue the same directive to their police and sheriff's departments.
Action by local law enforcement departments to prefer gun purchases from gun manufacturers that adopt the design and distribution standards would have a major impact. More than a quarter of all firearms sales in the nation are to law enforcement agencies.
"It's in the interest of housing authorities, local governments and the American people to reduce gun violence and save lives, and our agreement with Smith & Wesson will achieve these goals," Cuomo said. "Any company that signs this agreement deserves our support and our business for acting responsibly and in the public interest."
Local and state governments joined Smith & Wesson - America's largest gun manufacturer - and the Clinton Administration in approving the code of conduct Friday. The local governments and the Clinton Administration agreed to drop pending lawsuits against Smith & Wesson as part of the agreement.
The following local governments have so far approved the agreement: Miami-Dade County, FL; Los Angeles, Inglewood, San Francisco, West Hollywood, Sacramento and Berkeley in California; Bridgeport, CT; Atlanta, GA; Camden, NJ; St. Louis, MO; Detroit, MI; Gary, IN; New Orleans; Newark, NJ. More of the 30 local governments with pending lawsuits against gun makers soon could decide to sign the agreement.
As a result of its approval of the code of conduct, Smith & Wesson will undertake a series of actions. Among these, the company will: 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. Sixteen local governments and two states have also approved the landmark agreement.
Kevin Marchman, Executive Director of the National Organization of African Americans in Housing, said his group supports the code of conduct agreement and actions that encourage compliance with the code.
"By this brave action, Smith &Wesson has singled itself out for attack by those who choose to shield themselves behind false arguments, rather than accept common sense practices that both protect our children from harm and our rights," Marchman said. "By enforcing new sales practices, Smith and Wesson is acting as a responsible corporate citizen and gun consumers should reward them for this action. We look forward to working with the Administration and HUD in making this gun safety agreement universal."
The agreement was signed for the Clinton Administration Friday by Cuomo and Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers. In addition, the agreement was signed by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on behalf of their states. 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.
The agreement is designed to reduce the toll of gun violence, which annually claims over 30,000 lives and injures another 100,000 people in crimes, accidents and suicides around the nation.
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.