Clinton Lays Out Anti-Violence Proposals at Conference
Education leaders, gun manufacturers, and entertainment-industry executives attending last week's White House summit on youth violence largely embraced President Clinton's latest batch of anti-crime initiatives. Most agreed that the proposals had an important role to play in preventing future violence in the nation's schools.
In the aftermath of the deadly shootings at a high school in Jefferson County, Colo., last month, President Clinton issued a series of proposals on gun control and restricting children's access to violent video games.
And while some entertainment-industry executives failed to attend the May 10 conference, the White House claimed success. White House officials hailed as an important concession the support from video-game-industry leaders and the Dulles, Va.-based America Online Inc. for a proposal to bar children from buying violent video games from the Internet in cases where they are not old enough to buy those games in retail stores.
The two teenagers who killed 12 classmates and one teacher, as well as themselves, at Columbine High School on April 20 were reported to be devotees of video games with violent themes.
Also at last week's meeting, the American Shooting Sports Council, which represents 350 firearms manufacturers, endorsed Mr. Clinton's five-point plan to make it harder for minors to procure guns. The plan includes placing restrictions on sales of firearms at gun shows and raising the minimum age for owning a handgun from 18 to 21. One of the guns used by the students in Colorado last month was bought at a gun show.
The gun-control plan also includes a proposal to hold adults legally responsible if they allow children easy access to guns or ammunition. Under the president's plan, adults could be charged with a felony if they "knowingly and recklessly" allowed a child access to a gun that later caused death or injury.
Mr. Clinton also urged the participants at the meeting to enlist in the administration's newly launched campaign to prevent youth violence, intended to mirror an existing national campaign to prevent teenage pregnancy.
To help steer the new effort, Mr. Clinton said he would direct Surgeon General David Satcher to conduct a broad study of the potential causes of youth violence, from peer pressure to popular culture to mental illness.
Samuel G. Sava, the executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, attended the strategy session last week and called the event "a major first step."
With the tragedy in Colorado still fresh on lawmakers' minds, the Senate last week approved several of the president's anti-violence initiatives during work on an existing juvenile-crime bill.
A slew of amendments to the bill, S 254, won approval, including measures restricting juvenile possession of assault weapons, requiring Internet companies to provide parents with software to filter violent content, and ordering 24-hour background checks for those who buy firearms at gun shows.
A final vote on the bill, which had been moved on to a fast track for consideration after the Columbine High shootings, was expected early this week.
In a separate action, the Senate rejected an amendment to an emergency supplemental-appropriations bill introduced by a group of Democrats that would have provided an unprecedented $996 million to combat school violence. A Senate aide said the amendment failed because members felt further study was needed on the most effective ways to use federal funds to fight youth crime.
Vol. 18, Issue 36, Page 17