HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 00-88
Further Information: For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685 3:00 p.m., Friday
Or contact your local HUD office April 28, 2000


WASHINGTON - The District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will work in partnership to use $350,000 to purchase an estimated 7,000 guns in the largest gun buyback program in Washington's history, President Clinton announced today with HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Anthony Williams and Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey.

The DC gun buyback, which is scheduled to be held June 23 and 24, will be funded with $100,000 from HUD's new BuyBack America initiative and $250,000 from the Metropolitan Police Department.

"Just this week, seven children were shot at the National Zoo here in Washington, reminding us once again of the terrible toll gun violence takes in our country," President Clinton said. "Gun buybacks are one of a series of common-sense measures we need to reduce the number of Americans killed and wounded in gun crimes, accidents and suicides."

BuyBack America has so far signed up 85 communities around the country to purchase tens of thousands of unwanted guns. Cuomo recently announced a second round of buybacks that will enable even more local communities to buy back guns and get them off the streets.

Secretary Cuomo said: "This gun buyback in the District of Columbia will save lives and prevent tragic injuries. It will make families and neighborhoods safer with a modern-day version of turning swords into plowshares."

To reduce the availability of guns, all guns purchased as part of BuyBack America will be 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.

BuyBack America is part of a comprehensive effort by the Clinton Administration to reduce gun violence by providing more tools and resources for communities to establish local crime-fighting strategies, and advancing common-sense gun safety legislation to keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals. The effort is designed to reduce the estimated 30,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries caused by guns each year across the United States.

Mayor Williams said: "We have made great progress at reducing gun violence in our city. But the shooting at the National Zoo was a wakeup call: we have more to do, especially to get guns out of the easy reach of children. Building on last year's successful gun buyback effort, this federal partnership will allow us to take a record number of guns out of circulation. If we can avoid one death - even an accidental death - this program is well worth it."

DC Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said: "This is another example of how local law enforcement and the federal government are working together to remove guns from our streets. We are very pleased at the support that the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Clinton Administration are giving to these efforts. Last year's Operation Gun Tip demonstrated that this is an effective strategy for removing guns and reducing violence in our communities. In that endeavor alone, we collected almost 3,000 firearms in three days. We look forward to teaming up with HUD to continue and expand our efforts to remove illegal guns from the streets of the nation's capital."

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.

President Clinton announced HUD's buyback initiative in September. Today's event illustrates the positive response to the President's call for action.

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 that housing authorities set aside for a gun buyback.

Other parts of the Clinton Administration's gun safety agenda include:

  • 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.
  • 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 discourage gun violence, and expand the development of "smart gun" technologies.
  • Negotiations between the Clinton Administration and gun manufacturers seeking changes in the design, distribution and marketing of guns. On March 17, Smith & Wesson became the first gunmaker to agree to these new standards. If negotiations fail with other gunmakers, HUD could support a class-action lawsuit by the nation's public housing authorities against the gun manufacturers to get these changes. In addition, HUD has joined with officials from 190 local governments to form the Communities For Safer Guns Coalition to support giving favorable consideration to buying guns from companies that adopt the new gun safety and dealer responsibility standards. The preference applies to comparable weapons available at a comparable price that meet law enforcement agency needs.


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