Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: March 6, 1997

Release #118-97

Contact: Colleen Roche (212) 788-2958, Dwight Williams (212) 788-2972


Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today addressed a breakfast meeting of the Citizens Crime Commission on the issue of gun control. In his address, the Mayor reiterated his call for a national uniform standard of gun licensing requirements.

"Yesterday, President Clinton outlined his proposals for more stringent federal gun licensing requirements," Mayor Giuliani said. "His proposals include: prohibiting non-citizens from buying guns; requiring proof of residency, including a photo I.D. and a utility bill in the buyer's name; making 'cop killer', or teflon-coated, armor-piercing bullets illegal; and requiring child safety locks on the weapons of all Federal officials to prevent these guns from ever winding up in the hands of children."

"I applaud the President's proposals, and I will support them any way I can," the Mayor continued. "I only hope that he is right, and that Congress is finally ready to recognize that the vast majority of Americans want more gun control. It makes sense. It is time. And we can no longer let special interests dominate this vitally important issue."

"We in New York and other places are working very hard to control crime and especially to reduce criminal incidents involving guns," the Mayor pointed out. "In New York City, we have seen more than a 50 percent decrease in shootings since 1993, but to complete the job we have started, we need the help of other states, and of the Federal government, to promulgate more rigorous gun purchasing requirements nationwide. Then we won't have 90 percent of our City's guns being brought in from other localities to commit heinous crimes like the tragedy at the Empire State Building."

"I know many people argue that keeping and bearing arms is a federally guaranteed right as stated in the Second Amendment of the Constitution," the Mayor said. "But even in the Second Amendment, it refers to firearms in the context of a well regulated militia, and well regulated is what we are trying to accomplish. Just as unimpeded interstate travel is constitutionally guaranteed, we reserve the right to regulate who can or cannot drive an automobile. We must also sensibly regulate gun purchases to preserve the safety of all Americans."

In his speech, the Mayor alluded to some compelling facts about where guns on New York streets come from.

"A recently released study indicates that of 2,225 guns confiscated in New York City, more than 92 percent of the guns were originally purchased out of state and more than 60 percent of them came from five states -- Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia," the Mayor said. "And when looking at the FBI Total Index Crimes List, which shows the number of crimes on a per capita basis for cities with a population of more than 100,000, it is not a coincidence that four of the top ten are in Florida, and six are in the South, where gun control laws are very lax. New York City, where requirements for purchasing a gun are much more rigorous, ranks 144th on that list."

Here are other highlights of the Mayor's address:

"The man who committed this despicable act of hatred and violence on top of the Empire State Building came to the United States on December 24, 1996. First he arrived in New York and then traveled to Melbourne, Florida where he checked into a cheap motel. Using the hotel address, he was able to obtain a photo I.D. card, and that was all he needed to buy a gun -- a .380 Beretta, capable of firing 14 rounds in four or five seconds. Because in Florida, although they have relatively strict regulations to obtain a gun license, gun licenses are only necessary for carrying concealed weapons. A license is not required to buy a gun -- all that is required is a photo I.D. In private transactions, at gun shows, or when purchasing a gun from a private individual, there is nothing else required."

"Ironically, if Mr. Hassan Kamal had wanted to buy a car, or even drive a car legally, he would not have been able to because in Florida obtaining a driver's license is much more difficult than buying a gun. In fact, getting a driver's license requires several forms of official identification proving residency. It requires a written test and a road test, and a thorough background investigation is done to determine if the applicant has a history of driving recklessly, or unlawfully. These driver's license requirements are fairly uniform from state to state, which demonstrates that from region to region, a vast majority of Americans accept that driving an automobile is potentially very dangerous and requires sensible regulations. However, guns kill many more people than automobiles do, even though there are many more cars than guns."

"I think one of the reasons that the procedures for obtaining a driver's license and buying and operating a car have become uniform and sensible is that insurance is required for automobiles. The insurance industry has standardized what is necessary to get insurance. Cars must be registered and trackable. Cars are required to undergo periodic safety inspections in many states. Driving records are computerized and traceable and driver's licenses must be periodically renewed. Perhaps we should require insurance for handguns. If liability insurance were required to purchase and own a handgun, you better believe the insurance industry would promulgate a pretty rigorous licensing and purchasing process to control the risk."

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