Vice President Al Gore urged a receptive crowd in Tennessee on Monday to "create a family lobby as powerful as the gun lobby." In his speech to educators, law enforcement officials and community leaders at the eighth annual Family Re-Union Conference at Vanderbilt University, Gore also called for strict gun laws.
Â"First, families need help getting guns off our streets, out of our schools and away from children and criminals,Â" Gore said at the conference.
Gore repeated the family values theme he used to annouce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in his hometown of Carthage last Wednesday.
After speaking at the conference, Gore participated in a discussion on the economy and family-friendly workplaces. He touted a recent study that found nearly 1.5 million men acknowledged paternity in 1998, an increase of 12 percent from 1997 and three times the 1993 figure.
Â"A man acknowledging paternity does not make a father but it is a start,Â" he said. Â"It's the first step toward committing to a child the emotional and financial support a father must give to merit the name.Â"
Gore took credit for helping gain passage for the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act that guarantees up to 12 weeks' unpaid leave for parents after a baby is born. And he talked about his wife's efforts to give parents more information about record lyrics and the content of television programs.
Gore announced $20 million in self-help housing to assist 2,000 families nationwide in building homes and a new resource guide for citizens who want to build more livable communities.
He also announced a Â"Safe Cities NetworkÂ" Web site to link local leaders, community organizations, law enforcement and faith-based organizations to reduce gun violence, share information about programs that work and provide technical know-how.
Pamela Johnson, deputy director of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, a group of federal employees working to streamline government, said: Â"There isn't any problem to which we don't have a solution. It's just a matter of getting the solutions and the problems in the same place.Â"
Gore outlined an agenda that includes curbing access to guns, improving community planning, providing after-school care for children of working parents and cracking down on an entertainment industry that Â"glorifies aggression and indecency.Â"