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Gore Gets Tough On Crime

Unveiling a broad anti-crime initiative, Vice President Al Gore today proposed requiring photo licenses for all new handgun owners and tougher penalties for those who commit crimes in front of children, CBS News Correspondent Bill Plante reports.

"Our children cannot reach for their dreams if they are ducking for cover," he said in a speech at the Boston Police Department.

He criticized a criminal justice system that he said puts half a million unrepentant, unrehabilitated and drug- or alcohol-addicted prisoners back on the streets each year. These "walking time-bombs of violence" pose a danger to families and children, he said.

"We can't focus just on the guns," Gore told CBS News "We have to focus on all of the other measures that I've included in this sweeping anti-crime package."

Democrats have identified public outrage at the school shooting tragedies in Littleton, Co. and Conyers, Ga. as an opportunity to make gun control a winning issue. Surrounded by police in Boston, the vice president pushed further on gun control than President Clinton has ever gone.

In what was billed as his fourth major policy address as a Democratic presidential candidate, Gore touched on dozens of hot-button issues, including exploiters of the elderly, school violence, Internet stalkers and domestic violence.

Gore compared his gun license proposal to a driver's license. Canada is the only nation with a similar licensing program for gun owners. The vice president also called for a ban on junk guns - often known as "Saturday night specials."

Former Senator Bill Bradley, Gore's only serious opponent for the nomination made a similar proposal in 1994. He repeated it in a newspaper article last week -- and took a swipe at the Clinton Administration, noting that "eighty five percent of Americans think handguns should be registered, but the Clinton Administration won't propose it."

School shootings this year in Littleton, Colo., and Conyers, Ga., have turned gun control into a major issue in the 2000 presidential campaign. Bill Bradley, Gore's only announced opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, has outlined his own anti-crime initiatives, including handgun registration and a ban on the manufacture and sale of cheap handguns.

In his remarks, Gore said crime had dropped across the nation since President Clinton's anti-crime bill was passed, but he said those measures were only the beginning.

He proposed tougher penalties for those who commit crimes in front of children, for repeat drug abusers and for those who commit hate crimes, calling on Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Gore said his intensified war on drugs would focus on known drug hot spots, the increased trafficking of methamphetamines, and also would focus on alcohol abuse.

Said Gore: "I will insist on a policy of zero tolerance toward guns and drugs in our schools. Parents have a right to knw if a child has brought a gun to school, and schools should be legally required to tell them."

The vice president has already said he supports raising the age for handgun possession from 18 to 21; barring juveniles from possessing assault weapons or large-capacity ammunition clips; imposing new penalties for adults who sell guns to minors; and requiring safety locks on guns.

Ever the technology buff, Gore would make increasing use of computers in law enforcement, investing in software that community police could use to map and target high-crime areas.

Other features of the anti-crime package include establishment of "gang-free zones," more aid for professional development and retraining of police officers and increased spending on after-school programs for youths and anti-drug efforts.

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