Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton's Legacy: Gun-Control President? Plan to Add Gun Restrictions Is in Keeping with His Long Record Onfirearms Limits

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton's Legacy: Gun-Control President? Plan to Add Gun Restrictions Is in Keeping with His Long Record Onfirearms Limits

Article excerpt

The president who helped push through the Brady handgun bill and the assault-weapons ban is again standing toe to toe with the powerful gun lobby.

For Bill Clinton, gun control is a longstanding moral issue - and one he takes personally. From his days as governor of Arkansas, he and the National Rifle Association have sniped at each other, trading threats and vetoes.

As the story goes, a NRA lobbyist once confronted Mr. Clinton in the hallway of the Arkansas Capitol, delivering a "not very veiled threat" that unless the governor signed NRA-backed legislation, the group would make it difficult for him when he ran for president. Angered, Clinton responded: "You don't get it. It's a bad bill," and then vetoed it, according to former White House aide Paul Begala. Both sides of the gun-control divide agree that Clinton has gone on to do more to restrict firearms than any modern-day president. The proposals he unveiled this week, including one to limit gun shoppers to buying one handgun per month, build on that legacy. In the beginning ... Clinton's gun-control push began his first year in office with the Brady bill, which had languished for seven years under Republican presidents. The law, which required a waiting period and a background check for handgun purchases, has prevented more than a quarter million felons, fugitives, stalkers, and others from buying handguns, says the White House. The Brady waiting period has expired because background checks are now automated, but Clinton seeks to revive it as a "cooling off" time for impulse buyers who might harm themselves or others. In 1994, the president moved on to assault weapons, vigorously advocating a controversial ban on 19 types of weapons. Since signing that legislation, he has faced down the gun lobby with executive orders, including banning imports of more than 50 models of modified assault weapons. Now Clinton wants to tighten gun restrictions further by requiring background checks of buyers at gun shows, as well as of people buying explosives; raising the age from 18 to 21 for buying handguns; and increasing penalties for adults who transfer guns to juveniles. …

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