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pd30oc00 Statement on Congressional Action on the Foreign Operations...

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 A Proclamation

    Every day in America, approximately 10 children are shot and killed. 
Children 15 years old and younger are murdered with firearms at a higher 
rate in this country than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. 
These tragedies are an urgent reminder that we must not waver in our 
national commitment to reduce gun violence and to make our society safer 
for our children.
    We are beginning to see some progress in our efforts. Since 1992, 
the national violent crime rate has dropped by more than 20 percent; 
violent crimes committed with firearms have dropped by 35 percent; and 
the firearms homicide rate has fallen over 40 percent. We have achieved 
much of this

[[Page 2534]]

progress by embracing a collaborative, community-based approach to gun 
crime prevention and reduction.
    Gun violence issues differ in each community, and no single program 
or approach works everywhere. In response to a directive I issued last 
year to help reduce gun violence and save lives, United States Attorneys 
and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Field Division 
Directors for each of our Nation's 94 Federal judicial districts have 
developed locally coordinated gun violence reduction strategies. Working 
closely with local law enforcement, elected officials, and other 
community leaders, they are tailoring plans to local needs and 
developing strategies to prevent gun crimes from occurring and crack 
down on gun criminals.
    A major goal of our strategy to reduce gun violence and ensure the 
safety of our children is to keep guns out of the wrong hands. We passed 
the Brady Act to help accomplish this goal by requiring that every 
person who purchases a firearm from a federally licensed dealer submit 
to a background check. To date, Brady background checks have prevented 
more than 536,000 felons and other prohibited individuals from acquiring 
firearms. We also succeeded in banning assault weapons, making ``zero 
tolerance'' for guns in schools the law of the land, and passing 
legislation that prohibits juveniles from possessing handguns. However, 
our determination to reduce gun violence must not stop there. I have 
called on the Congress to build on these measures by passing legislation 
that closes the gun show loophole, mandates child safety locks with 
every handgun sold, and bans large-capacity ammunition clips.
    We have also provided funding for more than 100,000 community police 
officers; for the Safe Schools/Healthy Students initiative to reduce 
youth violence through collaborative, community-based efforts; and for 
the 21st Century Community Learning Centers--safe places where students 
can go after school to participate in constructive activities and avoid 
the dangers of guns, gangs, and drugs.
    But none of these efforts can succeed without the commitment of 
America's youth. It takes courage to resist negative peer pressure; it 
takes character to settle disputes without resorting to violence; and it 
takes a sense of personal responsibility to tell an adult when others 
fail to live up to these standards. On this National Day of Concern, I 
ask every young American to sign a Student Pledge Against Gun Violence, 
which contains a solemn oath never to bring a gun to school, never to 
use a gun to settle a dispute, and to use their influence to keep others 
from using guns. By doing so, they will take an important, life-
affirming step toward a brighter and safer future.
     Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United 
States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the 
Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 
21, 2000, as a National Day of Concern About Young People and Gun 
Violence. On this day, I call upon young people in classrooms and 
communities across the United States to voluntarily sign the Student 
Pledge Against Gun Violence. I also call upon all Americans to commit 
themselves anew to helping our Nation's young people reject violence and 
to make our schools and neighborhoods safe places for learning and 
     In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day 
of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand, and of the 
Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-
                                            William J. Clinton

 [Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 8:45 a.m., October 24, 

Note: This proclamation was published in the Federal Register on October 
25. This item was not received in time for publication in the 
appropriate issue.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2534-2540]
Monday, October 30, 2000
Volume 36--Number 43
Pages 2529-2650
Week Ending Friday, October 27, 2000
Remarks at a Reception for Representative Martin T. Meehan
in Lowell, Massachusetts

October 20, 2000

    Thank you for that wonderful welcome. Thank you for coming out to 
help Marty tonight. I told him that now that he had all this support and 
has raised all this money, we needed to go find him an opponent. 
[Laughter] Seems a shame to waste all this

[[Page 2535]]

energy and support and enthusiasm, you know. [Laughter] It's a good 
thing there aren't many more votes he can cast against me. [Laughter]
    Let me say, first, how honored I am to be here. I want to say more 
about Marty in a moment, but I also want to thank Richie Neal for being 
here and for representing Massachusetts so well--he's a wonderful man--
and for supporting the efforts that we made with the Irish peace 
process, which, in the beginning, to put it mildly, were somewhat 
    I want to thank Senator Kennedy. We've spent most of the day 
together. We flew here today. In an uncommon act of sensitivity, he flew 
to Missouri today for the funeral of the Governor of Missouri, who was 
our nominee for the United States Senate. You probably know he died 
tragically in a plane crash with his son and one of his closest aides. 
He was my neighbor and my very close friend. When I looked out today and 
I saw Ted and Vickie at the funeral, I thought, ``What a great thing to 
do.'' I say this every chance I get. But whatever I have accomplished as 
President, so much of it would never have been possible if Ted Kennedy 
hadn't been there with me every single step of the way, and I cannot 
thank him enough.
    You know, we have a lot of fun together. Today I taught him a new 
card game so I could beat him. [Laughter] And he was convinced I didn't 
play fair, just because I won and he lost. [Laughter] You know, he's 
going to get the last laugh, though, because when he came to the Senate, 
I was in junior high school--[laughter]--and when I leave the White 
House, he'll still be in the Senate, thank goodness for our country's 
    I would also like to thank someone in this audience for coming here 
tonight. I was particularly glad to see Niki Tsongas. Where are you? 
Niki, are you here? She was in the other room when I was here. I was 
really delighted she was here.
    And I want to thank Marty's family for coming tonight at a difficult 
time, beginning with his wonderful mother. Mrs. Meehan, thank you for 
being here. Thank you. Bless you for coming tonight.
    Marty and Ellen and their beautiful baby and Marty's mom and the 
whole Meehan clan met me outside, and I understood how he had been 
elected. [Laughter] Frankly, there are so many of them, he doesn't 
really need you. [Laughter] But I'm delighted that you're helping him 
    I wanted to come here--as Senator Kennedy said, I've been to a lot 
of different communities in Massachusetts. I've tried to, in this course 
of my service as President, beginning in the '92 campaign, I've tried to 
make the whole State, to really spend time out in the State of 
Massachusetts to see every part of it and to have a chance to thank the 
people of this State. No State has been better to Bill Clinton and Al 
Gore than the State of Massachusetts, and I am very grateful to you.
    You heard Marty say that when I became President, unemployment here 
was 7.5 percent. Last month it was 2.4 percent, the lowest in 30 years, 
down two-thirds from 1992. So, I want to have a serious talk here, just 
for a minute, about this election coming up, what it means to you, your 
children, your grandchildren, and the future of our country. I want to 
ask you to take some time, a little time every day, to talk to other 
people about it.
    I know that Vice President Gore and Joe Lieberman are well ahead in 
the polls in Massachusetts. But you can help them in New Hampshire. You 
may know some people in--if we win this time in New Hampshire, I think 
it may be the first time the Democrats have ever won it three times in a 
row. But they ought to be with us. New Hampshire is a lot better off 
than it was in 1992. It's a lot better off. And they've been very good 
to me, too.
    You might have some friends in Pennsylvania, one of the battleground 
States, or Ohio, a lot of the other places where this election could go 
either way.
    I had the opportunity--gosh, when was it--yesterday--to appear 
before the Senate and House Democrats, and I said that we should view 
ourselves from here until election day as the ``Weather Caucus,'' 
because if we make things clear, that is, if people understand with 
clarity the choice before them and the consequences of the choice, we 
will win. If they make things cloudy, we'll have a hard time winning. So 
they will be for cloudy; we'll be for clear. What does that say

[[Page 2536]]

about who you ought to vote for right there? [Laughter]
    So I just want to take a minute or two, because everybody here has 
friends who will never come to an event like this. Isn't that right? 
Every one of you has friends that will never come to an event like this, 
but they will show up on election day. You have friends in other States 
where the election could go either way who will never come to an event 
like this, but they will show up on election day.
    And I just wanted to tell you, we've now heard all the debates, and 
the candidates are kind of going into the homestretch, and sometimes 
it's easy to lose the forest for the trees. And you know, I care 
passionately about this election, not just because of my more than 
passing interest in the Senate race in New York. [Laughter] And I might 
add another kind thing Ted did--he went to Buffalo with Hillary the 
other day and spoke to an Irish group, and he practically had her with a 
brogue by the time he got through. It was fabulous. [Laughter] And not 
just because I'm so devoted to Al Gore and all that he's done, and not 
just because Joe Lieberman has been a friend of mine for 30 years; but 
because when the Vice President says, ``We've come a long way in the 
last 8 years, but you ain't seen nothin' yet,'' I actually believe that.
    And I'm not running for anything. That's not just political 
rhetoric. I've worked as hard as I know how to turn this country around 
and pull this country together and move us forward, to fight off the 
most bitter partisan attacks in modern American history and just keep on 
going. And it's worked pretty well. And I think you will all agree with 
    But never--never in my lifetime have we had at the same time so much 
economic prosperity, social progress, national self- confidence, with 
the absence of domestic crisis or foreign threat to our security. It has 
not happened in our lifetime.
    Now, when you get a situation like that, you have an obligation as a 
free society to build for the future, to seize the big opportunities, to 
deal with the big challenges, to make the most of them. And I'm telling 
you, the only thing that ever bothers me is when I see, well, people 
think that they kind of like both these candidates, and maybe there is 
not much difference, and maybe we should give the other guy a chance or 
this, that, or the other thing, and after all--and things are going 
along fine. Who could mess this up? [Laughter] You know, you hear a lot 
of this talk, don't you? Don't you hear this talk--people talking--and 
what I want to say to you is that we ought to be happy about this 
election, because you have two people we can posit: They're good people; 
they love their families; they love their country; and they will pretty 
well do what they say they'll do if they get elected.
    But make no mistake about it, there are great differences in the 
candidates for President and Vice President, for the Senate and for the 
House, that will have profound consequences. And you've got to decide. 
And I'll just tell you a few of them.
    First of all, I've listened to all these debates, so let me tell you 
what this election is not about. This election is certainly not about 
one of us being--one of our candidates being for big Government, the 
other one being for less Government.
    Let me tell you what the facts are. Now, we had a hard time getting 
those facts into these debates, because they're so inconvenient for the 
other side. And I admire that about the Republicans: The evidence does 
not faze them. [Laughter] They are not bothered at all by the facts. And 
you've got to kind of give it to them. Ask Richie or Marty or Ted. Don't 
take my word for it. The evidence doesn't faze them. They just sort of 
show up and do it anyway. They know what they're for.
    But here are the facts. Under this Democratic administration, 
Government spending is the lowest percentage of national income it's 
been since 1966. Tax burden on average, middle-income Americans is the 
lowest it's been in more than 20 years. Now, the size of the Government 
is the lowest it's been since 1960, Dwight Eisenhower's last year in the 
White House, the year you elected John Kennedy President of the United 
States. That is the size of the Federal Government. Those are facts. So 
when you hear our Republican friends talking about how we're for big 
Government, ask them, where have they

[[Page 2537]]

been the last 8 years? And if you hear somebody who acts like they 
believe it, fill them in on the facts.
    This election is also not about how our side can't get bipartisan 
action done in Washington, so we need a Republican to rescue us to give 
us bipartisan action. Let me just run through a little of the bipartisan 
action. Once we made it clear to them that we weren't going to let them 
shut the Government down, abolish the Department of Education, and have 
the biggest education and health care and environmental cuts in history, 
and once you made it clear to them that you wouldn't support them if 
they kept doing that--we got a bipartisan welfare reform bill, a 
bipartisan balanced budget bill that had the Children's Health Insurance 
Program, the biggest expansion of children's health care since Medicaid 
in 1965. We got a telecommunications bill that's created hundreds of 
thousands of jobs in America. We got an extension of our bill to put 
100,000 police on the street; we're now working on 150,000. We got a 
bill to put 100,000 teachers in the schools; we're already a third of 
the way home there--all in a bipartisan majority.
    So if somebody says to you, ``I've got to vote for the other guys 
because they're against big Government, or they're for bipartisan 
solutions,'' you say, ``Hello. Stop. Facts.'' Do a fact check here. It 
tickles me. The Republicans are seeking to be rewarded for the harsh 
partisan atmosphere they created. [Laughter] ``We made a mess of this. 
The Democrats will work with us. Give us the White House, and we'll 
behave.'' That's their argument.
    You should say, ``I don't think so. That's not necessary.'' We get 
plenty of stuff done on a bipartisan basis. Ted Kennedy works every day. 
Marty Meehan's got this campaign finance reform bill with Chris Shays. 
Our problems is not bipartisanship. Our problem is that the Republican 
leadership in the United States Senate and in the campaign for the White 
House are against campaign finance reform. One hundred percent of the 
Democrats and a lot of the Republicans are for campaign finance reform. 
Isn't that right?
    So that's what it's not about. Here's what it is about. One other 
thing it's not about. It's not about change versus the status quo. Al 
Gore is not the candidate of the status quo. If anybody running this 
year ran on the following platform, ``Vote for me, and I'll do 
everything Bill Clinton did,'' I would vote against that person. Why? 
Because the world is changing dramatically.
    So the issue is not whether we're going to change; it is how we're 
going to change. Are we going to keep the prosperity going and build on 
the changes in the last 8 years that are working, or are we going to 
reverse course? That is the question. And that's the way you've got to 
frame it. It's not whether, but how, we're going to change.
    Now, look, here's the deal on this economic business. Our tax cut, I 
admit, is only a third the size of theirs--our candidate's tax cut. But 
most people making under $100,000 do better under ours than theirs. Now, 
why is ours only a third the size of theirs? Because we learned the hard 
way in the 12 years before we got here that if you give it all away 
before it comes in, you may wind up with a lot of red ink on your hands, 
and you don't want to do that again.
    So, we say, ``Let's have a tax cut we can afford for college tuition 
deduction, for long-term care for the elderly and the disabled, for 

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