- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two
days after the shooting at a Los Angeles Jewish community centre, Attorney
General Janet Reno on Thursday called on Congress to "seriously consider"
tougher gun legislation that would include a national gun licensing system.
- At her weekly news conference, Reno did not lay out a
specific plan on how to implement such a proposal -- that in order to
own a handgun, a person should get an operator's license first.
- ``I believe we must seriously explore the possibility
of requiring the licensing of all handguns,'' Reno said, echoing similar
suggestions made by President Bill Clinton earlier this year.
- ``It is common sense, pure common sense, to ensure that
guns are only in the hands of those who know how to safely and lawfully
use them and have the capacity and willingness to do so,'' she said.
- At the White House, Clinton backed Reno, saying: ``I
wanted to strongly support and associate myself with her comments on
- In a June television interview, Clinton suggested Americans
should have to register their guns as they do their cars.
- ``Should we do more? Should people ought to have to register
guns like they register their cars? Do I think that? Of course I do.
Of course I do,'' Clinton said then.
- Bill Powers, director of public affairs for the National
Rifle Association, said that most everything Clinton and Reno were calling
for was already law.
- ``Deranged, psychotic people were not stopped by the
present federal laws and wouldn't be stopped by the one or two laws Reno
or Clinton proposed,'' he said. ``The present gun control laws are not
- Calls by Reno, the nation's top law enforcement officer,
come one day after Buford O'Neal Furrow Jr., 37, a suspect in Tuesday's
shooting rampage in Los Angeles, turned himself in at the Federal Bureau
of Investigation's office in Las Vegas.
- Furrow, a member of the Aryan Nations group of white
supremacists, was accused of spraying bullets into the North Valley Jewish
Community Centre, wounding three young boys and two women.
- He also confessed to killing Joseph Ileto, a Filipino-American
postal worker, police said.
- Next month when it returns from summer recess, Congress
is likely to face heavy pressure to reconcile the differences between
a bill passed by the Senate and one passed by the House of Representatives.
- The Senate bill included several new gun control measures,
including the controversial proposal to require background checks of
all gun sales at gun shows. That is not in the House legislation, although
there has still been some talk of a compromise in the conference committee
working to produce one bill.
- Reno said the Congress should approve the language in
the Senate bill ``until we adopt comprehensive measures to keep guns
away from those who should not have them.''
- Reno also said the shootings at the Jewish centre and
of the postman may be hate crimes. ``Although the investigations are
still under way, these shootings appear to have been motivated by hate,''
- ``Eliminating hate crimes and eliminating bigotry and
bitterness are among this nation's most important, and most enduring
challenges,'' she said.