Saying the National Rifle Association cannot be allowed to "call the shots" on protective gun laws, Vice President Al Gore released a government study Monday showing that people age 18 through 20 commit 24 percent of all gun murders.
The study, prepared jointly by the Treasury and Justice departments, said this is the case even though that group of youthful Americans makes up only 4 percent of the population.
Gore presented the report's conclusions in remarks prepared for delivery before the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
"Incredibly, while those 18-to-20-year-olds cannot legally buy a beer, cannot purchase a bottle of wine, they can walk into any gun shop, pawn shop or gun show in America and buy a handgun," Gore said, according to an advance copy of his remarks.
The report found that 18-year-olds commit 35 percent more gun murders than 21-year-olds, double the gun murders by 24-year-olds and four times the gun murders by 30-year-olds.
The vice president urged Congress to resist lobbying by the NRA against stricter gun laws and act on a bipartisan basis this week to pass what his office called "commonsense measures to protect America's children."
"Will we let the NRA call the shots in Washington or will we cross party lines to make our children safer?" Gore asked in his prepared remarks. "Now is the time for every parent, every citizen, every elected official, every national leader to take a stand, and to stand up and be counted.
"No more delays and no more fuzziness and no more excuses," he said. "We need strong action, and strong leadership, today."
Gore and the Clinton administration are seeking new laws to:
- Raise the legal age for the possession of handguns from 18 to 21.
- Require child safety locks on guns.
- Require background checks for people wishing to buy guns at gun shows.