Gore proposes national system for licensing buyers of guns

Candidate says he will be tough on crime, drugs and firearms

July 13, 1999|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

BOSTON -- Presidential candidate Al Gore threw himself headlong into the raging gun-control debate yesterday, proposing a nationwide licensing system that would require safety checks and photo IDs for all gun-buyers.

The vice president's plan would essentially make gun-buyers subject to the same sort of licensing requirements now imposed on drivers. States would have broad discretion in implementing the program, but aides said federal funding might be tied to meeting certain national standards.

The licensing proposal is the cornerstone of a broad anti-crime agenda Gore unveiled, saying that if elected president he would toughen laws on guns, drugs and jail sentences.

The plan underscored the emergence of gun control as a hot button issue in the 2000 presidential election in the wake of the Littleton, Colo., school shootings, but it also left Gore a half-step behind rival Bill Bradley on the issue.

The former New Jersey senator, Gore's competitor for the Democratic presidential nomination, put out his broad gun-control plan last week.

He proposed not only testing and licensing gun-buyers, but also registering all of the nation's 65 million handguns.

"We are happy that the vice president has started to support our proposals on gun control," said Bradley spokesman Eric Hauser.

But Gore should have gone further, he added.

The Gore and Bradley proposals "virtually assure that whoever the Democratic nominee is, they'll be running on a strong gun-safety platform," said Handgun Control President Bob Walker.

"The question now is what are the Republicans going to say."

Pub Date: 7/13/99

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