The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• William J. Clinton
The President's Radio Address
May 13, 2000
Good morning. This weekend Americans celebrate the first Mother's Day of the 21st century. For most of us, it's a happy occasion, a chance to thank the women who gave us life, cared for us as children, nurtured us into adulthood. But for thousands of mothers and fathers whose children have been killed by gunfire, tomorrow will be a day of sad memories.

Every day in America, nearly a dozen children are killed by guns, and 12 families receive a wound that never heals. And every day in America, millions of moms and dads watch their children walk out the door in the morning and wonder if they'll come home safe that night.

That's why the First Lady and I are giving our strong support to tomorrow's Million Mom March. Tens of thousands of mothers and others are marching in Washington and more than 60 other cities across our Nation. They're saying, enough is enough. Congress must pass commonsense gun legislation to protect our children without constraining the rights of legitimate gun owners.

Many of the organizers have lost children of their own and other loved ones to gunfire. This past week I met with some of them at the White House and heard their stories: a son shot while playing with neighbors in his own backyard in New York; a teenager shot at his front door by party crashers in Virginia; a daughter shot with four others by classmates at her Arkansas middle school; a young man shot by Illinois gang members who expected, just like on television, that he would get up and walk away.

These moms are finding in their fear and loss the strength to send a wake-up call across America. As a father, I was heartbroken by their stories; as an American citizen, I was inspired. They're saying gun violence touches us all, wherever we live, whatever the color of our skin, whether or not we have children. They remind us that the loss of a child is a loss for us all. And they know we have the power to do something about it.

We do have the power to teach our children the right values, to build strong communities, to crack down on those who use guns to commit crimes. But the key to our success in this, as in so many areas, has got to be more prevention, doing more to keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals in the first place. There's no reason why we can't do that.

The Million Mom March is calling on Congress to act on the commonsense gun legislation that has been before it for 10 months now. The bill wouldn't take away anybody's gun or make anyone miss a day during the hunting season. What it would do is to close the loophole that lets anyone buy a gun at a gun show without a background check. It would require child safety locks with all new handguns. And it would ban the import of large capacity ammunition clips, which nobody is using for sport or self-defense, and which makes a mockery of our assault weapons ban.

I think the Million Mom March is already a success, before anyone takes the first step. These people are helping to lead a grassroots effort that has already put stronger laws in place in States like California, Massachusetts, and Maryland. They're letting the gun lobby know it is no match for America's moms. But our nationwide fight won't be over tomorrow, no matter how many march. We have so much work still to do.

Throughout our entire history as a nation every movement for social progress, every step toward safety and justice for all has been fueled by the energy and effort of ordinary citizens. The Million Mom March is the latest successor to that great American tradition. If the moms stick with it, they will succeed. They will make America a safer, more humane nation. Helping to keep guns out of the wrong hands is a Mother's Day gift we can all be proud of.

Happy Mother's Day, and thanks for listening.

Citation: William J. Clinton: "The President's Radio Address", May 13, 2000. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=58480.
 
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