In what President Clinton called a breakthrough for child safety, executives from eight major gun makers stood in the Rose Garden today and promised to provide child-proof locks with all of their handguns.
Their commitment will equip by the end of next year about 80 percent of handguns sold in the United States, said Clinton, pointedly noting he and the gun industry are not often allies.
"This administration and the gun industry from time to time have stood on different sides of various issues -- the Brady law, assault weapons ban -- and there may be other disagreements in the future," the president said. "But today we stand together and stand with the law enforcement community to do what we all know is right for our children."
He invited executives from Glock, Beretta, Taurus, H&R, Heckler & Koch, Smith & Wesson Corp., Mossberg & Sons, and Sig-Arms to stand and be applauded by the assembly of top law enforcement officials, including Attorney General Janet Reno.
Richard Feldman, executive director of the American Shooting Sports Council, said that child-proof locks must be accompanied by safe storage and safe firearms training.
"Please do not be fooled into believing that any single safety divide by itself is the answer," Feldman said in introducing Clinton.
According to Justice Department estimates, more than one-third of all privately owned handguns -- some 22 million -- are kept loaded and unlocked. Easy access to these weapons sends 1,500 children to hospitals each year.