Public Housing Hit By Gun Violence

Glock 9mm handgun
Public-housing residents are more than twice as likely to be victimized in handgun violence as other Americans, according to a federal study made public Wednesday.

Though the report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development finds that levels of crime are dropping in public housing, the nation's 2.6 million public-housing residents are at disproportionate risk of gun violence.

While four of 1,000 Americans are victimized annually by gun violence, the number soars to 10 out of 1,000 for public-housing residents.

"They deserve to be as safe as the rest of us," President Clinton said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference at the White House.

"We should also move to complete the unfinished business of the last Congressespecially common- sense gun safety legislation," Clinton said. "Guns in the wrong hands continue to claim too many young lives."

He cited the recent shooting deaths of four high school students -- two in Washington, D.C., and two in Littleton, Colo., noting, "Ten months after the tragedy at Columbine it is long past time for Congress to pass this common-sense gun safety legislation."

The HUD survey reports that in 1998, there were an estimated 360 gun-related homicides in 66 of the nation's 100 largest public-housing authorities.

The report is designed to buttress Clinton administration efforts to reduce gun violence. Clinton's budget requests $280 million for more than 1,000 federal, state and local prosecutors and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents assigned solely to enforcing current gun laws.

Moreover, HUD officials announced plans in December to file a federal class-action suit from public-housing authorities against the gun industry if manufacturers fail to enter negotiations designed to increase firearm safety.

Some news that law enforcement officials might find more promising, however, was also provided in the study culled from crime data provided by the National Crime Victimization Survey, the Census Bureau and HUD.

The crime rate declined in two-thirds of the authorities studied between 1994 and 1997. And 60 percent of the housing authorities saw their own crime rates drop faster than those of their surrounding cities.

The Latest: More Violence In Public Housing

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