July 1, 1995 in Nation/World

Clinton Continues Fight To Ban Cop-Killer Bullets With Rally, Ads Speech In High-Crime Area Caps Week-Long Defense Of Crime Bill

Washington Post

President Clinton Friday capped a week-long political offensive on crime issues with a proposal to put new restrictions on “cop-killer” bullets and a vow to fight “Washington lobbies” opposed to gun control.

On Tuesday, the president’s re-election campaign began running $2.6 million worth of television advertising touting his support of anti-crime legislation, gun control measures and the death penalty, the earliest in a campaign cycle that such ads have ever appeared.

At other official and political events this week, Clinton demonstrated unusually sustained presidential devotion to a single message: He is one Democrat who is tough on crime and is willing to fight the National Rifle Association over it.

Flanked by police leaders Friday in a high-crime neighborhood of Chicago, Clinton announced his new proposal on “cop-killer” bullets. “If a bullet can rip through a bulletproof vest like a knife through hot butter,” he said, “then it ought to be history. We should ban it.”

The White House immediately sent legislation to Capitol Hill expanding on a 1986 law regulating the bullets. The current law bans armor-piercing bullets based on the material from which they are made, said White House domestic policy adviser Bruce Reed. But a new generation of the bullets, using advanced materials and technology, has led law enforcement officials to push for a new ban, he said.

Reed said the new legislation provides for the Treasury Department to develop a performance standard that identifies the prohibited bullets not by their composition but by their ability to pierce police armor.

NRA spokesman Tom Wyld called Clinton’s proposal “sheer politics. It’s intended by the president to ban guns by attempting to ban more ammunition.”

But a police spokesman endorsed it. Dewey R. Stokes, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said, “This is the bill we’ve been waiting for. One that requires law enforcement, the firearms industry and the Congress to work together to close the book on cop-killer bullets - and special interests be damned.”

Clinton’s event in Chicago had all the trappings of a campaign rally by Republicans, the party that historically has promoted its tough-on-crime credentials. After years in which a large margin of the public generally considered Democrats weak on the issue, the two parties now are virtually even, according to polls over the past few months.

Standing before a crowd of police chiefs and gun control advocates, the president extolled the Brady law, which requires a five-day waiting period for handgun purchase, and the assault weapons ban that he fought to enact. He denounced Republican talk of rolling back parts of the crime bill Congress passed last year, particularly the assault weapons ban.

“I have never seen a deer, a duck, or a wild turkey wearing a Kevlar (bulletproof) vest in my life,” Clinton said in promoting his new proposal to rousing applause. “You do not need these bullets.”

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email