Clinton Lobbies Hatch on "Commonsense" Gun Provisions

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - President Clinton, traveling in India, Tuesday sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), saying he was troubled by Hatch's recent comments about stripping some gun provisions out of juvenile crime legislation.

"I am troubled by your recent comments that you are considering stripping the Senate-passed commonsense gun provisions out of the final conference report. Legislation intended to address the problem of youth violence simply cannot ignore the most devastating problem facing our youth -- gun violence," Clinton said.

Hatch is among the Republicans who believe that better enforcement of existing laws, rather than new laws, is the key to reducing gun violence.

Clinton admonished Hatch, "Let me be clear: I will not sign juvenile crime legislation that fails to move forward in our efforts to make guns safer, and to keep them out of the hands of children and criminals."

"Last summer," Clinton said, "the Senate passed reasonable gun provisions that would help do just this, by closing the gun show loophole, requiring child safety locks for handguns, barring violent juveniles from owning guns as adults, and banning the importation of large capacity ammunition clips. These measures can help save lives and should be enacted without further delay."

Clinton closed by spelling out what he wanted Hatch to do.

"Nearly a year has passed since the tragedy at Columbine High School, and gunfire continues to take the lives of nearly a dozen young people a day. That is why I urge you once again to finish the job you started last year and send me a comprehensive juvenile crime bill that contains the Senate passed gun safety measures. No task could be more urgent," the President said.

A spokesperson for the Senate Judiciary Committee told late Tuesday that Chairman Hatch had received the letter but had no comment.

Last year, congressional Democrats refused to pass a compromise juvenile justice bill that would have increased criminal penalties for violent youth offenders unless it included strict gun control proposals. When the bill was tabled, President Clinton wasted no opportunity to blame Republicans for the bill's failure.

In recent weeks, it has become apparent that Democrats are making gun control a front-and-center campaign issue.