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CNN Today

Federal Gun Buyback Program Set to Start in Washington Today

Aired April 28, 2000 - 2:30 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A federal gun buyback operation is set to start in Washington at the top of the hour. It follows a shooting rampage earlier this week at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. that wounded several people.

In the wake of the shootings, CNN's Kelly Wallace reports on a program President Clinton is backing in which money is the incentive for getting guns off the streets.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the wake of the shooting at Washington's National Zoo, CNN has learned President Clinton will announce today that the federal government and the District of Columbia will share the cost of a new $350,000 gun buyback program here. The goal: 7,000 guns at $50 each.

BRUCE REED, CLINTON'S DOMESTIC POLICY ADVISER: A gun buyback program is a simple, common-sense way to give communities the chance to take guns off the street and out of circulation by giving people the chance to turn them in.

WALLACE: The president will also ask for $30 million for buybacks in other cities and will call for tougher gun laws, a familiar refrain from this president for more than a year.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, how many more people have to get killed before we do something.

WALLACE: Since last May, one month after Columbine, gun legislation has been stalled in the Congress. And since Columbine, Mr. Clinton has held at least 13-gun-related events, trying to put pressure on lawmakers and highlight what states have achieved, such as a new Maryland law requiring child-safety locks or handguns.

CLINTON: Every single day Congress waits, we lose 12 children, nearly 90 people overall to gun violence. Congress should follow Maryland's lead.

WALLACE: Another part of the strategy, negotiating a deal with gunmaker Smith & Wesson to make its guns safer, and rewarding the company by encouraging local governments to buy it's products.

Other gunmakers are suing, calling it a "restraint of trade." Some republican say, bravo.

REP. BOB BARR (R), GEORGIA: I think it's very appropriate and high time that these companies, the lawful manufacturers of firearms, stood up to the administration and said, we're just not going to take this anymore.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: Now, as for the gun buyback program, not everyone thinks it is a good idea. The National Rifle Association says that buybacks do not work, charging that those most responsible for gun violence, the gang members and drug dealers and violent felons are not likely to go and turn their guns in. But in a speech to D.C.'s Police Academy just about an hour from now President Clinton will say that buybacks do work, that they reduce the risk of accidents and suicides with guns, and that he believes they are one part of an overall strategy to reduce gun violence -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Kelly Wallace at the White House.

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