PRESIDENTIAL DEBATEOctober 6, 1996
JIM LEHRER: Senator Dole, on the government -- continuing to talk about the government's role -- if elected president, would you seek to repeal the Brady Bill and the ban on assault weapons?
MR. DOLE: Not if I didn't have a better idea, but I've got a better idea. It's something I've worked on for 15 years. It's called the automated check or the instant check. It's being used in 17 states right now -- states like Florida, Colorado, Virginia and other states.
You don't buy any gun -- you don't get any gun -- we've got 20 million names on a computer in Washington, DC of people who should not have a gun. We ought to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and there are eight other categories that should not have guns. I've been working on this for a long, long time.
You walk in, you put your little card in there, if it says ``tilt'', you don't get any gun. You don't get a handgun. You don't get a rifle. You don't get a shotgun. You get zippo.
And if we're going to protect American children and American families and people who live as prisoners in their home, we've got to stop guns from being dumped on the street.
The administration says they support the instant check. They've appropriated about $200 million, but only spent about $3 million to get it underway. In our administration, in my administration, we will expedite this. It keeps up with technology. It keeps guns out of the hands of people who should not have guns. That is the bottom line. And I believe it's a good idea. It has strong bipartisan support. And perhaps that's another thing we can de-politicize. You talk about the Brady bill. There's only been one prosecution under the Brady -- only one under the assault weapon ban and only seven under the Brady bill that you talk about all the time. And on the assault weapon ban, out of 17 weapons that were banned, only six are banned now because 11 have been modified and they're back on the street.
Let's get together on this instant check, because that will really make a difference.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. President?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me say, first of all, Senator Dole has gone back and forth about whether he'd be for repealing the Brady bill or repealing the assault weapons ban.
And I think his present position is that he would not do so. And if that's true, I'm grateful for it. But let's look at the facts here.
The Brady bill has kept at least 60,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers from getting handguns. Senator Dole led the fight against the Brady bill. He tried to keep it from coming to my desk. He didn't succeed, and I signed it, and I'm glad I did. Then, when we had the assault weapons ban in the Senate, Senator Dole fought it bitterly and opposed the entire crime bill and almost brought the entire crime bill down because the National Rifle Association didn't want the assault weapons ban, just like they didn't want the Brady bill.
But two years later nobody's lost their handgun -- I mean their rifles. We have expanded the Brady bill to cover people who beat up their spouses and their kids. And this is a safer country. So I'm glad I took on that fight, and I believe with all respect I was right and he was wrong.
MR. DOLE: Well, the president doesn't have it quite right. I mean, it seemed to me at the time that the assault weapon ban was not effective. That's history. I've told the NRA that's history. You're not going to worry about it any more. I'm not going to worry about it any more. Let's do something better. Let's stop, you know, playing the political game, Mr. President, talk about this and this. You add up all the states that have used the instant check and how many weapons they've kept out of the hands of criminals, it would far surpass the number you mentioned. So in my view if you want to be protected you ought to vote for Bob Dole and we'll get the instant check passed and we'll keep guns out of the hands of criminals.