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Clinton Administration wants to double funding to trace gun criminals

By Kelly Wallace/CNN

December 20, 1999
Web posted at: 11:53 a.m. EST (1653 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Clinton Administration will ask for $20 million in next year's budget -- double the amount in the fiscal year 2000 budget -- to fund a program that helps law enforcement officials solve crimes simply by analyzing the bullets or shell casings found at a crime scene, according to White House domestic policy advisor Bruce Reed.

Reed told CNN that this is "another sign" that the administration is "serious about enforcing the laws against gun criminals," and represents an opportunity for the gun industry -- and the government -- to work together.

One major gun manufacturer, Glock, is already working with the government to develop "fingerprints" of the bullets and shell casings for every 9mm handgun test fired in its manufacturing process, Reed said.

The administration proposal will beef up funding for what is called ballistic testing, a crime-fighting tool that helps police use the fingerprints of bullets or shell casings found at a crime scene to figure out the type of guns that were used and the criminals who used them.

According to an administration fact sheet obtained by CNN, the plan will merge the ballistic testing done by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and triple the number of law enforcement jurisdictions able to access the information, enhancing the crime-fighting abilities of 230 local law enforcement agencies around the country.

Ballistic testing by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has advanced more than 16,000 criminal investigations of gun crimes in over 40 states, according to the administration.

The administration says use of ballistics technology helped the New Orleans Police Department solve a string of brutal murders in the city.

The White House is redoubling its efforts on gun-related issues. Earlier this month, the White House indicated it was prepared to back a national class action lawsuit on behalf of public housing authorities against the gun industry, if gun manufacturers didn't begin negotiations with the cities and counties that have filed suit.

Reed said the administration met with representatives of the cities and the state attorneys general this week, and that the White House, along with cities and states, are expected to begin negotiations with the gun industry in January.

He added that one of the items discussed as part of any potential settlement was for gun manufacturers to participate in a national ballistic testing system, just as Glock currently is doing now.


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Monday, December 20, 1999

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