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Hillary Clinton Urges Gun Control

July 30, 1999

ELMIRA, N.Y. (AP) _ Hillary Rodham Clinton, eyeing a Senate run in New York, said Friday that the shooting rampage in Atlanta demonstrates the need for stronger gun-control laws.

``I think it does once again urge us to think hard about what we can do to make sure that we keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals and mentally unbalanced people,″ the first lady said as she emerged from a breakfast stop at an Elmira restaurant.

``I would hope that the Congress would take action on the legislation that is now pending before it as soon as possible,″ she added.

Mrs. Clinton, who has stepped up her calls for tougher gun-control laws since the school shootings in Littleton, Colo., earlier this year, said she hopes ``we will come together as a nation and do whatever it takes to keep guns away from people who have no business with them.″

Mrs. Clinton is on a summer-long ``listening tour″ of New York as she considers running for the Senate seat being vacated next year in New York by fellow Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

A potential opponent on the Republican side, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, is also a strong advocate for gun-control laws.

On Thursday, an Atlanta-area man killed nine people in the city and later killed himself. Authorities said Mark Barton also killed his wife and two children.

Gun control can be a touchy issue for politicians in traditionally Republican upstate New York, where Mrs. Clinton is traveling this week. In Elmira on Thursday, she noted that most gun owners are responsible people.

At a campaign event in Bath, Mrs. Clinton said she is ``more and more excited about the prospect″ of running for the Senate and is ``very committed to following through on this.″

She scoffed at an editorial in Friday’s Wall Street Journal predicting she would skip the race and maybe find a job easier to win, such as head of the World Bank.

Mrs. Clinton told reporters that the Senate seat ``is the only job I’m interested in right now and the only job that I’m pursuing.″

Nonetheless, Mrs. Clinton she wanted ``to spend more time listening to the people of New York″ before announcing her candidacy.

Recent polls have shown Mrs. Clinton’s once hefty lead over Giuliani vanishing. She now either trails or runs even against him in the polls.

Asked if she felt the mayor was taunting her by traveling to Arkansas this week to dramatize the fact that she’s never lived or worked in New York, Mrs. Clinton said she was ``not going to comment on anyone else’s campaign tactics.″

Wading into a controversial area for politicians, the first lady did say that while sexual abstinence must be stressed in combatting teen pregnancies, especially with young teen-agers, ``we should also answer children’s questions honestly″ about contraception and other issues involving sexuality.

``It’s almost tragic that we have to think about this in terms of very young teen-agers, but the fact is whether we like it or not, we do,″ she said. ``We have very young teen-agers who are often taken advantage of by older boys or men, who don’t know how to protect themselves, who don’t know how to fend off those advances.″

The first lady also said she favored legislation that would require involuntary commitment for the mentally ill in some cases.

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