Reno characterizes L.A. shootings as hate motivated, calls for tougher gun laws
August 12, 1999
Web posted at: 11:41 a.m. EDT (1541 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Attorney General Janet Reno Thursday said the shooting death of a Filipino postman and the shootings at a Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles "appear to have been motivated by hate" and urged Congress to get "a serious grip on gun violence" by strengthening gun laws.
Buford O'Neal Furrow Jr., a self-described white separatist, has been charged with the Tuesday murder of the postman, shortly after he allegedly opened fire at the North Valley Jewish Community Center, wounding five people, including three children. He surrendered to the FBI Wednesday.
Attorney General Janet Reno spoke Thursday on the L.A. shootings
"Although the investigations are still under way, these shootings appear to have been motivated by hate," an emotional Reno told reporters. "Hate crimes represent an attack not just on individual victims, but also on the victims' communities. They tear at the very fabric of a people's life."
She said eliminating hate crimes and bigotry are among the nation's top challenges -- for the sake of the nation's children.
Reno called for stronger hate crime legislation to enhance the federal government's ability and to help states prosecute crimes of prejudice.
She also called for tougher gun laws in response to a public outcry.
"When you go out to America, America is saying why can't you all do something," she said. "And I think the message should be loud and clear -- the American people, including a great majority of gun owners, think that we need rational regulation of guns to make sure that people who are not entitled to have them don't have them."
She said in the four months since the attack with guns and explosives at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, that took 15 lives, gun control measures remain unpassed.
"Four months, and anyone can still walk into a gun show and buy a high-powered dangerous weapon without even having to establish their identity," she said.
"We are never going to get a serious grip on gun violence in this country until we adopt comprehensive measures to keep guns away from those who should not have them," said Reno.
Among those measures, she said, are exploring the licensing of all handguns, extending the Brady gun law background checks to include violent juvenile offenders, cooling-off periods before purchasing a gun, laws addressing children's' access to guns and limits on how many guns someone can buy in one month.