Majorities Back Clinton's Gun Control Efforts but Oppose Gun BanNANCY BENAC , Associated Press
Dec. 10, 1993 10:18 AM ET
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton said today he's ''committed to going further'' on gun control as a poll said a majority of Americans favor tighter restrictions on gun ownership.
''We have to figure out exactly what to do and in what order,'' Clinton told reporters. ''The possibility of movement here has just opened up and the American people need to keep the pressure on and we'll keep moving.''
Clinton is pushing for congressional passage of a tough crime bill that would put more police on the streets, and, among other things, prohibit the sale or transfer of handguns to juveniles. He also has directed the Justice Department to study a variety of gun licensing and registration proposals.
''There are lots of issues here,'' Clinton said. ''We're going to try to deal with them all in an aggressive and forthright way.''
Attorney General Janet Reno said today she favored states taking action to restrict gun ownership. Reno, appearing on ABC, CBS and NBC, repeated her argument that gun ownership should require licensing just as driving a car does.
Asked if that would violate the constitutional right to bear arms, Reno, speaking on ABC, replied: ''All our constitutional rights require a reasonable balance.''
A new poll said that 45 percent of those surveyed felt the National Rifle Association has too much to say about gun control laws. That's an increase from the 39 percent who expressed that view in another poll, taken in August.
Clinton said he wanted the Justice Department to analyze various gun- control proposals ''both on the merits - is this right or wrong - and secondly, for the details - how could it be done - and thirdly, what should we do in what order.''
''The main thing I can tell you is we are committed to going further,'' he said.
Reno said she believes the NRA has always been out of step with the majority of Americans. ''People want a sensible, reasonable approach to guns and they want to end this focus and absolute love affair with guns,'' she said on CBS.
Forty-five percent of those asked said they had one or more guns at home. Fifty-three percent said they didn't. The others did not say.
The survey of 1,479 Americans was taken last weekend by the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press.
The things President Clinton has done to control the use of handguns - chiefly his support of the Brady bill requiring a five-day wait before a purchase could be made to allow a police check of the purchaser's record - won the approval of 57 percent. Twenty-nine percent disapproved. The others did not know or declined to say.
But when asked if they favored or opposed a law to ban the sale of handguns, 51 percent said they were opposed and 45 percent were in favor. Four percent were uncertain. Another poll, by CBS News, reported that 49 percent approved banning the sale of handguns, while 49 percent were opposed.
A law ''that would make it illegal for ordinary citizens to own handguns except in special circumstances'' was opposed by 60 percent in the Times Mirror poll and favored by 35 percent with 5 percent unsure.
On the other hand, 57 percent said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect the right of Americans to own guns. Thirty-four percent said it was more important to protect the right to own guns and 9 percent were unsure.
As for the NRA, the chief lobbyist against proposals to limit the sale of firearms, 45 percent said it had too much influence, 15 percent said it had too little, 27 percent said it had the right amount and 13 percent couldn't say.
''I don't think those are bad numbers,'' said Wayne LaPierre, chief executive officer of the NRA. ''They're better than Congress' in terms of the approval rating and I don't think those are bad numbers for any organization.''