Clinton "Pissed" by
Gun Control Defeat

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Text lifted from Capitol Hill Blues, June 18, 1999

You don't supposed he'd propose something radical do you, like say, enforcing the existing laws already on the books?

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Clinton pissed by midnight gun control defeat
President Bill Clinton, suffering a rare legislative loss on gun control, made it clear Friday he's pissed.

``Instead of closing the deadly gun show loophole, the House of Representatives voted in the dead of night to let criminals keep buying guns at gun shows. This vote will not stand the light of day,'' Clinton said in a statement from Cologne, Germany, which was read by White House spokeswoman Beverly Barnes.

The amendment, which had the support of the influential National Rifle Association, was passed one minute after midnight EDT Friday by a vote of 218-211 after hours of impassioned debate on guns, religion and school violence.

The measure was sponsored by Michigan Democrat John Dingell, a long-time champion of gun owners, and is much weaker than gun show legislation passed by the Senate last month.

Gun control advocates have hoped for stronger measures since the April 20 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in which two teen-age gunmen killing 12 fellow students and a teacher before apparently killing themselves.

The Senate bill allows three business days for checks, giving law enforcement access to state court records if needed, and it also more broadly defines a gun show.

``I will keep working until Congress stands up to the gun lobby and makes the common-sense measures passed by the Senate the law of the land,'' said Clinton, who is in Cologne for a weekend summit of the Group of Seven major industrialized countries.

``We owe it to the families of the children who died in Littleton to give all Americans the safety they deserve,'' Clinton added.

The House also rejected 235-193, a rival amendment that Clinton had backed, despite a poignant plea by sponsor Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat who lost her husband to a crazed gunman on a Long Island, New York, commuter train in 1993.

Thursday, Clinton had made an impassioned last-ditch appeal to Congress to pass stronger gun control measures, and telephoned several lawmakers from Paris to urge them to vote for tougher gun control measures.

Passage of Dingell's package does not guarantee that the House will approve the final gun bill. The House will vote later Friday on other gun measures, such as selling child-proof locks with handguns, and the final outcome is uncertain.