|HUD No. 00-80|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||2:30 p.m. Tuesday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||April 18, 2000|
BUYBACK AMERICA CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED IN 84 COMMUNITIES
View Comments by Mayors Whose Cities Are Conducting HUD-Funded Gun Buybacks
View Gun Buyback Project Summaries
View Funding for Gun Buyback
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, on behalf of the Clinton Administration, today launched BuyBack America - an unprecedented national campaign to buy back unwanted guns and raise awareness about gun safety. Eighty-four communities have pledged to utilize HUD funds to purchase tens of thousands of unwanted firearms, reducing deaths and injuries caused by gun crimes, accidents and suicides. Cuomo also announced the availability of additional funds to enable gun buybacks to occur in hundreds of more communities in the coming year.
"BuyBack America isn't just about buying back guns - it's about buying back lives that would otherwise be lost to senseless gun violence," Cuomo said. "Tragically, gun violence today is a plague that is killing our fathers and mothers, our sisters and brothers, our wives and husbands, and even our children. Every gun we take off the street in a buyback is one less gun that can fall into the wrong hands and kill or wound an innocent victim. I encourage more communities to join us."
Tom Mauser - the father of slain Columbine student Daniel Mauser - joined Cuomo in today's announcement. Mauser, who has taken a leave of absence from his job and is working full-time to reduce gun violence with the group SAFE Colorado (Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic), said: "I welcome this buyback program because it is an effective way of eliminating guns from our streets. All of our institutions and leaders must do their part to help us reduce the terrible problem of gun violence in our country."
The Secretary was also joined by Annapolis, MD, Mayor Dean Johnson, whose city conducted its first-ever HUD-funded gun buyback last weekend, and the following Mayors whose cities will conduct their first HUD-funded buybacks as part of BuyBack America in the future: Sharpe James of Newark, NJ; Al Jurczynski of Schenactady, NY; Carol Marinovich of Kansas City, KS; Ruben Smith of Las Cruces, NM; and Bobby Peters of Columbus, GA.
Cuomo also announced a second round of buybacks that will enable even more local communities to buy back guns and get them off the streets. Housing authorities will now be able to use their Fiscal Year 2000 - in addition to their 1999 funds - for this second round of buybacks. The buybacks are designed to reduce the toll of gun violence that claims an estimated 30,000 lives and wounds another 100,000 people each year in the United States.
Cuomo encouraged communities across the country that have not yet applied to take advantage of HUD funding, to join the nationwide BuyBack America campaign.
In September, President Clinton announced HUD's BuyBack initiative. Today's event illustrates the positive response to the President's call for action. The President is expected to have more to say about BuyBack America in the coming days.
Police departments and public housing authorities participating in BuyBack America will use funds from HUD's crime-fighting Drug Elimination Grant Program to buy back guns. HUD suggests a buyback price of $50 for each gun. In addition, businesses are encouraged to donate gift certificates for food, toys, and other goods to individuals turning in guns. HUD is providing 43 cents in matching funds for every $1 in HUD Drug Elimination Grant funds which housing authorities sets aside for a gun buyback.
The basic premise of the gun buybacks is to give people the opportunity, for a limited period of time, to exchange their guns for something of value with no questions asked. To reduce the availability of guns, all guns purchased with HUD funds will destroyed, unless it is determined that a gun was stolen or is needed for an ongoing law enforcement investigation. Stolen weapons will be returned to their lawful owners.
A recent study from RAND and the University of California-Los Angeles showed that more than 22 million children live in homes with firearms and in 43 percent of those homes, the guns are not locked up or fitted with trigger locks.
In addition to removing guns from the community, the buyback initiative is designed to foster cooperation between local communities and law enforcement agencies, as well as to educate people regarding gun safety and responsible gun ownership.
Other parts of the Clinton Administration's gun safety agenda include:
- HUD and the Department of the Treasury last month signed a historic agreement with Smith & Wesson to implement a "code of conduct" that will increase gun safety and improve retail distribution to keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals.
- A $280 million national firearms enforcement initiative that is also 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 new gun tracing and ballistics testing systems to catch more gun criminals, fund local media campaigns to send a message to criminals on tough gun penalities and a message to all gun owners on the safe handling and storage of firearms.
- 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.
- The passage of common-sense gun safety legislation that has been stalled in a House-Senate Conference Committee for nine months that would close the gun show loophole, require child safety locks for handguns, ban the importation of large-capacity ammunition clips, and bar violent juveniles from owning guns as adults.
The following individuals and organizations have expressed support for the BuyBack America initiative: Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee and a Member of the VA-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee; Senator Barbara Boxer of California, Member of the Budget Committee; Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island; Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York, whose husband was murdered and whose son was badly wounded in a shooting on the Long Island Rail Road; Handgun Control, Inc.; the National Education Association; Physicians for Social Responsibility; the American Public Health Association; the Educational Fund to End Handgun Violence; the National Association of African Americans in Housing; and officials from the Housing Authority of Baltimore City and the Housing Authority of New Orleans.
COMMENTS BY MAYORS WHOSE CITIES ARE CONDUCTING HUD-FUNDED GUN BUYBACKS
Mayor Al Jurczynski, Schenectady, NY: "As a City Councilman and now as Mayor of the City of Schenectady, I have witnessed firsthand the damage and pain caused by the proliferation of illegal handguns in our city. This became painfully clear this past year when an individual shot one of our police officers with an illegal handgun. Thankfully, that officer's bulletproof vest saved him. I would like to personally thank HUD for their support, and for making this gun buyback program possible. Hopefully a life will be saved in the future."
Mayor Carol Marinovich, Kansas City, KS: "Easy access to weapons is the single most frequent cause for the high rate of gun deaths and injuries in this country. The gun buyback program is an important step toward making our community safer. I firmly believe it will have a major impact in our efforts to reduce crime and avoid tragedy as a result of gun accidents."
Mayor Ruben Smith, Las Cruces, NM: "This program will empower the City of Las Cruces to join together to reduce gun violence in our community. Statistics show that: more than 14 young people die each day from firearm injuries; U.S. children under 14 years are 12 times more likely to die from firearm injuries than in any other industrialized nation; in 1995, almost 30,000 people died from firearms related injuries; in 1998, 87% of surgeons stated that firearm violence is a major public health problem; median admission charge for a firearm injury in 1996 was $28,033."
Mayor Bobby Peters, Columbus, GA: "The most basic task of government is to protect citizens from violence and ensure that neighborhoods are once again safe. The HUD Gun Buyback program is right in line with that purpose. I commend Secretary Cuomo for that and other initiatives to help local governments fight for the safety of their citizens."
Mayor Sharpe James, Newark, NJ: "The City of Newark is proud to join with the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and other municipalities around the nation today in America's Gun Buyback initiative."
Mayor David Jones, Wilmington, NC: "Every city has an important role to play in the reduction of the serious crimes of gun-related violence. This gun buyback strategy is just one of our City's many efforts to address this problem. The initiative demonstrates the collaborative partnerships between the Wilmington Housing Authority and the New Hanover County Sheriff's Department."