September 16, 1996 in Nation/World

No Handguns For Abusers, Speaker Says Gingrich Backs Clinton On New Legislation

Jim Abrams Associated Press

House Speaker Newt Gingrich promised Sunday to support legislation barring those convicted of domestic violence from obtaining a handgun.

At the same time, pressure for such legislation grew as four Democratic senators urging Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole to come out for a ban.

“I’m very much in favor of stopping people who engage in violence against their spouses from having guns,” Gingrich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think that’s a very reasonable position.”

The Georgia Republican said such legislation would pass the House in the closing weeks of the current session. President Clinton endorsed the idea during his whistlestop train trip to the Democratic nominating convention in Chicago in August.

The gun ban has been actively pushed by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. He tried unsuccessfully to attach it as an amendment to anti-stalking legislation Congress passed last week that would make a federal crime of crossing state lines to harass a person.

The popular anti-stalking bill was held up in the Senate for months because the gun-control issue was included. The bill’s main sponsor, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, succeeded last week in attaching the anti-stalking language stripped of the gun ban to a spending bill.

On Friday, Lautenberg and Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and John Kerry of Massachusetts wrote Dole, asking him to use his influence to pass the legislation. Dole retired as Senate majority leader to run for president.

“Without your direct intervention, it now seems unlikely that the Republican congressional leadership will protect battered wives and abused children from gun violence,” they wrote.

They said that Dole was “in a unique position to persuade Speaker Gingrich” to approve the gun ban.

“Bob Dole believes all guns, not just handguns, should be kept out of the hands of domestic abusers,” said Dole campaign spokeswoman Christina Martin. “That’s why the Dole instant check initiative would protect anyone under a court order for stalking or harassing their spouse from purchasing any gun - rifle, shotgun or handgun.”

After failing to make the ban part of the anti-stalking bill, Lautenberg and his allies introduced it Thursday as an amendment to a Treasury and postal spending bill.

The amendment passed, 97-2, but Republican leaders pulled the spending bill from the floor because of a lack of progress toward completion.

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