Mr. Clinton met Thursday with a group of students from Colorado in response to the Columbine High School tragedy in that state. Columbine students were among those who came to the halls of the Capitol to fight an epidemic in the halls of America's schools.
"Every day I have to live with the fact that I will never see my friends again ," said Columbine's Erin Flynn. "The loss and pain that I have gone through is something no person should have to endure; I'm here today because I want to give something back to my friends."
They came with a message for the House of Representatives, which defeated last month's gun control bill. Student Michelle Green got a cold reception from one Republican congressman she met on the steps of the Capitol.
Green said "I thought that they would absolutely listen to us, and we got fed a lot of lines."
The president invited the students to the White House to help his campaign for mandatory background checks on all buyers at gun shows, and to require child safety locks on handguns.
When White House policymakers heard that students advocating gun control were coming to Washington, they quickly invited them to meet with the president - just as he met last year with students opposed to cigarette makers who marketed to the young.
The April 20 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton left 15 dead, including the two killers.
White House press secretary Joe Lockhart denied that Mr. Clinton was using the students inappropriately for political purposes.
"I don't think that what the president is doing is politicizing it," Lockhart said. "He thinks that these actions should be taken, and these students who are coming here today on their way to the Hill feel very strongly about it. And they'll make their message known. I don't think they see this as a political issue. They see this as an issue of safety for themselves and for their fellow students."
Mr. Clinton warns he'll veto any bill that would weaken current laws. He says Congress should demonstrate that America did not take a summer vacation on this issue.
The students' visit was organized by Handgun Control Inc. and SAFE (Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic), a political action group formed in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy.
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