|HUD No. 00-87|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||11:00 a.m., Thursday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||April 27, 2000|
CUOMO AND SCHUMER ANNOUNCE SAFER GUNS COALITION NEARLY TRIPLES IN SIZE TO 190 COMMUNITIES
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo and Senator Charles Schumer of New York today announced that officials from 190 local governments around the nation have now joined the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition - up from 67 just four weeks ago.
Local officials in the Coalition sign a pledge saying they support giving favorable consideration to making purchases from gun manufacturers that have adopted a set of new 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.
Smith & Wesson - the nation's largest handgun maker - became the first and so far only company to adopt the new standards March 17, in a landmark agreement with the Clinton Administration and state and local officials. The standards require 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.
Cuomo and Schumer were joined in making the announcement by: Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal; Westchester County, NY Executive Andrew Spano; York, PA Mayor Charles Robertson; and Canton, OH Mayor Richard Watkins.
"Police officers risk their lives every day to protect us all from gun violence," Cuomo said. "They will benefit, their cities will benefit, and every family will benefit by common-sense gun safety measures and dealer responsibility standards like those adopted by Smith & Wesson."
"Cities and towns which are on the front lines in the fight against gun violence are now able to take an affirmative step by choosing a gun manufacturer who believes the gun industry can do a better job of keeping guns out of the hands of kids and criminals," Schumer said.
Attorney General Blumenthal of Connecticut said: "Far from violating the Constitution, law enforcement officials collaborating to promote safer firearms and to keep them out of the hands of criminals and children actually serves a critical public interest in the finest traditions of public safety. The announcement today by Secretary Cuomo is a continuing sign of leadership and courage, and a signal that the gun-safety cause has struck a chord around the country despite the industry's efforts to intimidate and distract."
"The Coalition may be our best hope for influencing an industry that values profits ahead of public safety," said New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. "I look forward to working with Secretary Cuomo and my colleagues in state and local government to make this a reality."
The new gun safety standards are 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.
Leaders in the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition are inviting more local leaders to join them in committing to gun purchasing criteria that will favor companies that have agreed to significant safety measures. Representatives from each level of government are reaching out to their counterparts.
If other gun makers adopt the same code of conduct agreed to by Smith & Wesson, they will also get favorable consideration by Coalition members in the purchase of guns for law enforcement agencies.
Westchester County Executive Spano said: "Westchester County is joining with communities around the country to take an important stand in favor of safe guns and responsible gun sales. This step will make our county safer and communities around the country safer."
Mayor Robertson of York, PA, said: "I'm proud to work with responsible elected officials from both parties and from around the nation in the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition. This is a public service that will save lives."
Mayor Bob Elliott of Croton-on-Hudson, NY said: "Gunmakers should be responsible for safety features on their products. As Mayor of Croton-on-Hudson, I will not support governmental agencies' purchase of guns from manufacturers who do not include safety features."
The National Shooting Sports Foundation and seven gun manufacturers filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Cuomo, Spitzer, Blumenthal and mayors and other local officials charging them with illegal conspiracy in restraint of trade as a result of the Coalition activities.
Responding to the lawsuit, Cuomo said: "The National Shooting Sports Foundation and several manufacturers have filed a frivolous lawsuit in a vain attempt to distract from their failure to take responsibility for their share of the tragic problem of gun violence. After the Smith & Wesson agreement there are two types of gun manufacturers: safe and unsafe. Working with law enforcement, we prefer to do business with the safe manufacturers."
The agreement signed by Smith & Wesson requires that the company, among other things: 1) Install mandatory gun locks and other child-safety devices on all guns. 2) Introduce "smart gun" technology in all newly designed handguns within three years that allows guns to be fired only by the owner. 3) Bar gun sales - including gun show sales - without a background check of the buyer. 4) Limit the delivery of multiple handgun sales. 5) Stop doing business with dealers responsible for selling a disproportionate number of guns used in crimes.
The agreement is the product of negotiations between the White House, HUD, the Treasury Department and state and local governments with Smith & Wesson that were designed to settle lawsuits already filed against Smith & Wesson and to make new ones unnecessary.
Local governments, the federal government, and the Attorneys General of Connecticut and New York agreed to drop pending lawsuits or not bring possible lawsuits against Smith & Wesson after the company adopted the new standards.