| WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Aiming to keep guns out of "the wrong
hands," President Clinton unveiled on Saturday an online system
intended to block minors and criminals from using fraudulent firearms
licenses to buy guns by mail or over the Internet.
Clinton said the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has launched the "eZ Check"
firearm-license verification system on its Web site,
www.atf.treas.gov, in a bid to crack down on the use of phony licenses
to acquire guns illegally.
[ FFL EZ Check URL: http://220.127.116.11/
"By making it easier to check the validity of gun licenses, we'll make it
harder for guns to fall into the wrong hands and give law enforcement,
and the gun industry, a new tool to put a stop to illegal sales," Clinton
said in his weekly radio address.
"In addition, the ATF is proposing new measures to require gun sellers
to verify licenses and report individuals who use invalid ones," Clinton
The "eZ Check" system will provide a quick and easy way for licensed
gun dealers to verify the validity of a federal firearms license presented
to them for the purchase or shipment of guns, Clinton said.
Licensed dealers are allowed to ship firearms only to other licensed
dealers, but some people have been creating fraudulent licenses to
circumvent the law.
Under current law, licensed gun dealers are required to obtain copies of
licenses from purchasers before shipping firearms, but are not required
to ensure that the licenses are valid or to report to law enforcement
people who attempt to obtain guns using invalid licenses.
By logging onto the "eZ Check" system, a gun seller may submit a
federal firearms license identification number and instantly receive
information on the status and authenticity of the license, the White
Clinton said the system was aimed at preventing juveniles and criminals
from acquiring firearms by mail, over the Internet and by other means.
INTERNET FACILITATING ILLEGAL GUN SALES
The president said that despite all its benefits, the Internet is making it
easier for guns to fall into the hands of criminals and minors.
"There are now 4,000 firearm-sales-related sites on the Internet, and
there are 80 sites where you can actually buy a gun at auction," Clinton
said. "Clearly, we must do more to ensure that every sale over the
Internet is legal and that no one uses the anonymity of cyberspace to
evade our nation's gun laws."
Recent ATF investigations have shown how juveniles and illegal gun
traffickers easily acquire firearms by using fraudulent licenses.
Clinton cited the example of two juveniles in Montclair, New Jersey,
who were arrested last May after using a forged license to order four
firearms over the Internet from a Texas gun dealer.
The students later admitted to making four additional fraudulent
licenses. All the firearms that were shipped were recovered and the
juveniles pleaded guilty to charges in state court.
Clinton also called on the Republican-controlled Congress to fund fully
his National Gun Enforcement Initiative. It would provide $280 million
to pay for more than 1,000 federal, state and local gun prosecutors, hire
500 new ATF firearms agents and inspectors, expand gun-crime tracing
and ballistics testing, among other steps.
The president also called on Congress to pass gun-control legislation
that he supports.
"So I ask this Congress: Don't just talk about strong enforcement, give
us the tools to do the job," Clinton said.
© 2000 Reuters Limited.