Crackdown on handguns to be sought Lawmakers want to limit sales to one a month

January 15, 1993|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- To curtail gunrunning nationwide and reduce a flood of illegal firearms into the New York City area, three Eastern representatives have proposed legislation making it a federal crime to purchase more than one handgun within 30 days.

"How can good tough gun laws in New York, in New Jersey and in other states have any impact when people are driving as little as an hour, purchasing handguns and returning to the site of their planned criminal activity?" said Rep. Robert G. Torricelli of Englewood, N.J.

Seeking to take advantage of what they perceive as President-elect Bill Clinton's receptiveness to gun control, Mr. Torricelli, Rep. Gary L. Ackerman of Queens, N.Y., and Rep. James P. Moran of Virginia had a news conference yesterday to discuss the legislation they plan to introduce when Congress reconvenes next week.

The three Democrats said they were confident their bill would pass, despite opposition from the gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association.

"The NRA's friends in high places in Washington are leaving town next week," Mr. Torricelli said in a reference to President Bush.

Wayne LaPierre, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association in Washington, said: "It's another cheap political stunt from politicians too weak to attack criminals, but brave when it comes to attacking honest people. One gun a month won't work. Washington already has no guns a month and it has streets like butcher shops."

L Mr. LaPierre said the NRA would work to defeat the proposal.

"We intend to oppose one gun a month just like we would be opposed if they tried to limit us to one newspaper a month or one religion a month," he said. "But we also intend to go in and attack what the problem is in Virginia, which is the fraudulent identification schemes."

Though the legislation would apply nationwide, it is intended particularly for New York City, where police confiscated nearly 20,000 illegal firearms last year, about two-thirds of them handguns.

The authorities in New York were able to use serial numbers to trace 874 handguns. Of those 874, 25 percent had been purchased in Virginia, the representatives said yesterday, citing figures compiled by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

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