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Federal File: Targeting violence; Looking at legalization

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Vice President Gore last week visited a Washington high school the day after its morning classes were disrupted by gunshots in a hallway.

Dunbar Senior High School is about two miles from the White House. No one was injured in the shooting.

Mr. Gore addressed about 60 students and a dozen faculty members gathered in the school library.

"In the United States of America, what happened in this school yesterday is unacceptable in this country, unacceptable,'' Mr. Gore said, according to wire-service reports.

"We're drawing the line,'' he said. "We're digging in our heels as a nation and we're saying enough is enough.''

Mr. Gore said that guns in schools are "a new reality, a new development.''

"When is something going to happen in our country to change this reality?'' he asked. "The answer is, this year ... change is on the way.''

Mr. Gore was referring to the crime bills pending in both houses of Congress. But he cautioned that a solution also requires stronger families, better job opportunities, and a change in attitude.

But some students remained skeptical. One senior was quoted as telling Mr. Gore: "I won't feel good until I see results. Don't go home to your big house and forget. We just want help.''

Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders last month reiterated her support for a study of drug legalization.

Speaking at a luncheon arranged by Redbook magazine, Dr. Elders reportedly said that she had not changed her mind since December, when she sparked controversy by telling reporters that it might be a good idea to study the issue.

Other officials of the Clinton Administration moved quickly to disavow Dr. Elders's initial remarks by saying the President did not approve of such a study.

At the January luncheon, according to news reports, Dr. Elders vowed that if the federal government refuses to conduct the research, "I suspect I'll be going around to talk to major foundations, major universities, to really get them to do a solid, basic study to really look at that kind of issue.''

She also contended that making drug possession a crime has a racial angle, noting that blacks are 14 times more likely than whites to spend time in jail on such charges.--LYNN SCHNAIBERG & MARK PITSCH

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