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Caught in the crossfire : kids talk about guns : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, February, 3, 1994 online

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CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE: KIDS
TALK ABOUT GUNS



HEARING

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON
CRIME AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIAEY
HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED THIRD CONGRESS
SECOND SESSION



FEBRUARY 3, 1994



Serial No. 82



GOV'T.
DEPOSITORY






MAR ? 3 I



<- ^



H/*f



f- •- r - I ■ < i *.\H



LIBRARY




RECEIVED



APR 1 2003



BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY

GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS DEPARTMENT



Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary



85-^121



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1995



l/



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-046701-2



CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE: KIDS
TALK ABOUT GUNS



HEARING



BEFORE THE



SUBCOMMITTEE ON
CRIME AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED THIRD CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION



FEBRUARY 3, 1994



Serial No. 82



GOVT.
DEPOSITORY



MAR ? .1 I- ,



H/»i



LIBRARY




RECEIVED



APR 1 2003



BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY

GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS DEPARTMENT



Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary



85-^*21



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1995



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-046701-2



l/






COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY

JACK BROOKS, Texas, Chairman

DON EDWARDS, California HAMILTON FISH, Jr., New York

JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan CARLOS J. MOORHEAD, California

ROMANO L. MAZZOLI, Kentucky HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois

WILLIAM J. HUGHES, New Jersey F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr.,
MIKE SYNAR, Oklahoma Wisconsin

PATRICIA SCHROEDER, Colorado BILL McCOLLUM, Florida

DAN GLICKMAN, Kansas GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania

BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina

CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas

HOWARD L. BERMAN, California STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico

RICK BOUCHER, Virginia JIM RAMSTAD, Minnesota

JOHN BRYANT, Texas ELTON GALLEGLY, California

GEORGE E. SANGMEISTER, Illinois CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida

CRAIG A WASHINGTON, Texas BOB INGLIS, South Carolina

JACK REED, Rhode Island BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
DAVID MANN, Ohio
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
XAVIER BECERRA, California

Jonathan R Yarowsky, General Counsel

Robert A Lembo, Counsel /Administrator

Alan F. Coffey, Jr., Minority Chief Counsel



Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice



CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York, Chairman

DON EDWARDS, California F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr.,

JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan Wisconsin

ROMANO L. MAZZOLI, Kentucky LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas

DAN GLICKMAN, Kansas STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico

GEORGE E. SANGMEISTER, Illinois JIM RAMSTAD, Minnesota

CRAIG A. WASHINGTON, Texas GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania

DAVID MANN, Ohio

David Yassky, Counsel

Tom Diaz, Assistant Counsel

Holly Wiseman, Assistant Counsel

Andrew Cowin, Minority Counsel

(ID



CONTENTS



HEARING DATE

February 3, 1994 Pa ^[

OPENING STATEMENT

Schumer, Hon. Charles E., a Representative in Congress from the State
of New York, and chairman, Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Jus-
tice j

WITNESSES

Brown, Alicia j 6

Childers, Margaret ....."!!"!!"!!!!!!!!!"!!!!!!!!!!!! 17

Cruz, Tiffany !!!!"!!!"!"!"""!!!!"".'""! 14

Edelman, Marian Wright, president, Children's Defense Fund ""!"."!!!!""!!!."!"!!!! 34

Harrison, Rushon ig

Johnstone, Zoe "!!!!"!"! 18

Leeds, Ruth !!!"!!!!!."!!."!!!!!!!"."!!.'"!!! 20

Malloy, Monique "!!!!"""!""!!""."!"."."!"."."!" 15

Mateo, Fernando, Jr. !!""!!!""!!!!!"!!! 21

McGillicuddy, Megan !".."!!.""!."!."."!".""""!!!]."!!. 14

Troy, Deseree I"!""!!!!!!!!!"!!!""!!!" 13

Wefls, Janea .'"!".""."!!!.'"."!!!!!!!."."!!." 18

LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING

Conyers, Hon. John, Jr., a Representative in Congress from the State of
Michigan: Prepared statement 6

Edelman, Marian Wright, president, Children's Defense "Fundi T Prepared
statement og

Mateo, Fernando, Jr.: Prepared statement »"""«""!"!"!""!"!"!""!!!!!!!""! 23

(III)



CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE: KIDS TALK

ABOUT GUNS



THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 1994

House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice,

Committee on the Judiciary,

Washington, DC.

The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:33 a.m., in room
2226, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Charles E. Schumer
(chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Representatives Charles E. Schumer, John Conyers, Jr.,
Dan Glickman, Craig A. Washington, David Mann, F. James Sen-
senbrenner, Jr., Lamar S. Smith, Steven Schiff, Jim Ramstad, and
George W. Gekas.

Also present: Representatives Patricia Schroeder and Melvin L.
Watt.

Staff present: Tom Diaz, assistant counsel; Aliza W. Rieger, sec-
retary; and Andrew Cowin, minority counsel.

OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN SCHUMER

Mr. Schumer. The hearing will come to order. The Chair has re-
ceived a request to cover this hearing in whole or in part by tele-
vision broadcast, radio broadcast, still photography, or by other
similar methods. In accordance with committee rule 5, permission
will be granted, unless there is objection. Without objection.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are here today to learn
from our children.

Their words won't be sophisticated. They won't use the polished
phrases we hear from adults who talk here so often about guns.
The words of these children will be simple. They speak the special
candor unique to children. Their simple, honest words will burn
this awful truth into this record: Guns are killing and wounding
our children in record numbers.

Guns, mostly handguns, are killing 13 children every single day;
13 children are murdered, killed by accident, or take their own
lives with guns every day. This is the equivalent of killing a class-
room full of children every 2 days. And guns wound at least 30
more children every day.

Guns are exacting that toll from children of every race, religion,
ecomomic class, ethnic origin, and community in America. No soci-
ety in all of its modern history has equaled this horrible record. It
should make us weep with anger. And yet these sad shameful num-
bers are increasing. The rate of gun murders is accelerating among
children as we speak.

(l)



These children are innocent victims. The guns killing them were
made, bought, and first sold by adults, not by children. Children
don't manufacture guns. Adults do. Children don't make ammuni-
tion. Adults do. Children don't own gun stores. Children don't cre-
ate advertising campaigns to sell guns. Children don't make films
and television shows glamorizing gun violence. And children don't
buy guns for gun runners who put handguns into the hands of
criminals and even children. Adults do.

Adults do all of these things, and yet children suffer the con-
sequences. These children sitting right here before us, these chil-
dren suffer the consequences.

Now, this is an especially timely day for this hearing. Because
even as these children sit here, adults are doing something else
that will affect the lives of the children. This week is the gun in-
dustry's annual "fly-in." Industry executives, advertising flacks,
professional lobbyists — all adults — are walking the halls out there.
They are pressuring a target list of Congressmen and Congress-
women. They want them to vote against the ban on assault weap-
ons and other gun control legislation.

What a shameful, damning contrast.

For the last 3 days, these adult gun pushers have been twisting
arms in their suits and Gucci shoes. Tonight they will fly back out
in their Lear jets or first-class airfare seats.

I invite those lobbyists to come here and look these children in
the eye. Because no industry group flies these children in to lobby
Congress for a week. There are no lobbyists in silk suits and Gucci
shoes for the children whose parents, friends, and role models have
been killed. There are no Lear jets for the tens of thousands of chil-
dren whose childhoods have been stolen.

On the contrary, Robert McGillicuddy, the father of sixth grader
Megan McGillicuddy, got up at midnight and drove all night from
New York in the family van so that Megan and Tiffany Cruz could
testify today.

Zoe Johnstone and her mother Tina paid their own way to get
here. Other children from around the Washington area got here
today on their own hook.

So you are darned right, we should have this hearing.

Only a handful of dedicated adults work every day for the lives
of these children. People like Marian Wright Edelman, the presi-
dent of the Children's Defense Fund, from whom we will also hear.
People like my colleague Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, whose Se-
lect Committee on Children, Youth and Families held a hearing on
kids and violence last year. And without objection, and if there is
no objection, we are going to put the record of that hearing into our
record today.

These children's voices are small and soft. They are not often
heard in the vast Halls of this great Congress and yet they loom
over us larger than the greatest speech the mightiest ever gave
here. We must listen to these children. We must act. We must end
gun violence. Because these kids are our future. When we save the
life of even one of them, we save the world.

Mr. Sensenbrenner.



Mr. Sensenbrenner. Thank you very much. What we are going
to hear this morning, Mr. Chairman, is the tip of the iceberg in
terms of tragedies that have affected children.

But I can't help but think, as I review the biographies of the wit-
nesses on our first panel this morning, many of them have become
victims of tragedy because of the breakdown of family values in our
society today. Parents who don't want to spend time with their
kids. Parents, teachers, and schools that do not teach the word "re-
sponsibility," that one is responsible for his or her own actions. The
get-rich-quick schemes that many drug peddlers push upon people
as low as the junior high school level where you can get a lot of
money by breaking the law and by selling poison to your friends
to shoot into their bodies.

And because of this breakdown in family values and the fact that
anything that goes wrong always seems to be someone else's fault
and few people want to accept responsibility for their own actions
today, kids have gotten caught up in this tragedy as well. And I
think that that is probably the real tragedy of American society in
the 1990's.

Now, there is a big debate that will go on in this country on what
role the Government has in solving this problem. And while Gov-
ernment, in my opinion, can play a constructive role, it cannot play
the primary role in solving this problem. The primary role of solv-
ing this problem rests with parents, with churches, and with other
relatives. Because only when kids are brought up literally from the
cradle learning the difference between right and wrong and being
able to say something is wrong and being able to say "no" will we
be able to get a handle on this.

Now, I want to make it quite plain that what we are hearing
today in the first panel are victims. And these are good kids. And
these are kids whose parents have taken that time to teach them
the difference between right and wrong. And unfortunately, they
happened to be at the wrong place and the wrong time and gotten
in the crossfire of those that didn't learn that essential difference.
But, what I also would like to say is, at least in my State, which
is an active conservation State and where a lot of people enjoy
hunting which is a legal use of firearms, there are programs and
there are families that have gotten kids involved in learning how
to respect firearms, and I would like to conclude my opening state-
ment by reading into the record a letter that I received from just
one of these kids who happens to live in the congressional district
that I am honored to represent.

Mr. Schumer. Without objection, we will enter the whole letter
into the record.

Mr. Sensenbrenner [reading]:

Dear Congressman Sensenbrenner, my name is Jonathan Kizivat. I am a 16-year-
old boy living in Brookfield, Wisconsin. I have many interests including playing
sports, being active in school clubs, fishing, and our church youth group, but per-
haps my interest that has given me the most fun is hunting.

I have been hunting since I was 13 years old. My hunting career started with a
hunter education and safety course. In this course, safety ethics and conservation
were taught. I left the course with a great respect for guns and a sense of respon-
sibility of gun ownership. It is my feeling that hunters take responsibility for their
guns by following important safety rules for gun handling, storage, and the ethics
of gun usage.



4

Hunting has given me many opportunities to spend valuable time with my family
and friends. My regular hunting partners are my grandpa and uncle, people who
have been positive role models in my life. When it is not the hunting season, many
hours have been enjoyably spent with me at the rifle range improving our skills.
While hunting, I have been able to mingle and carry on conversations with adults
who have helped develop my confidence in being with groups of people. There is a
wonderful feeling of being out in the outdoors with family or friends facing the chal-
lenges of the hunt.

Even though I have not been successful in two years of deer hunting, I still look
forward to the season. The successful hunt does not necessarily mean that you shoot
a deer. I also feel good about hunting because I am contributing to wildlife manage-
ment. The guns are treated with respect. I take great care in following all the safety
rules of gun hunting and gun handling. Some of the best memories are of the times
three generations of my family have been together in the great outdoors on a hunt-
ing trip.

I look forward to being able to share the memories of hunting together with my
son or daughter and to share with them the pleasures of the sport. It is my hope
that hunting will be available for us and our children in the future, sincerely, Jona-
than Kizivat.

Now, this shows that when parents get involved and family gets
involved and imposes upon a young person respect and responsibil-
ity and the difference between right and wrong, not all children's
experiences with guns can be tragic and negative.

Mr. Schumer. Thank you, Mr. Sensenbrenner.

Those bells meant that we have to go vote. So maybe we will
come back and continue the opening statements, if that is OK with
my three other colleagues. OK. We are going to recess for a very
short time. We are going to vote and come back. We are tempo-
rarily recessed.

[Brief recess.]

Mr. Schumer. The hearing will resume.

I want to apologize particularly to the witnesses and just explain
to them while we have this hearing we also have votes on the floor
of the House. When those bells ring and the buzzers go off, we sim-
ply have to go over and vote. I actually moved the hearing back to
10:30 because this vote was originally scheduled for 10 o'clock, but
they pushed it back. When we go back and forth, it is not out of
lack of interest but simply because we have to go vote.

The next gentleman I would like to call on for an opening state-
ment — I would ask the Members if we can keep them to some mod-
icum, some limit, I won't set any — is my distinguished predecessor
as chairman of this subcommittee, Mr. Conyers.

Mr. Conyers. Thank you very much and good morning.

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, this is an impor-
tant hearing. I am going to ask that my statement be reproduced
in full in the record.

Mr. Schumer. Without objection.

Mr. Conyers. And just add that before coming down here, I
called back to Detroit to Mrs. Clementine Barfield, who heads up
the Save Our Sons and Daughters Committee of 7 years, which
arose out of her own child's violent death by gun. And she is our
metropolitan expert. And I said, do you think that this kind of
hearing would serve a useful purpose in metropolitan Detroit? And
I want to just tell what you she told me. She said, I have heard
it all and it might be good to hear it again. To that extent, it could
be good. But she said, we have got to affirmatively teach peace and
affirmatively be against guns and help young people, particularly,



separate out many issues that come over in pros and cons and the
very great number of mixed messages that go out.

And to that extent, this hearing and Dr. Edelman and others can
be of great use. What I am looking at here is how what we learn
here today can be put into the crime bill that we are working on
in our other capacity, and it seems to me that tying these things
together will put us in the real world of how we can make impor-
tant improvements in this subject.

Mr. Schumer. Thank you, Chairman Conyers. That is one of the
main goals we have in trying to put together a fair crime bill.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Conyers follows:]



Statement of Representative Conyers, Jr.

Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice

February 3, 1994

Mr. Chairman, I thank you for this opportunity to hear the testimony of these brave
children. I want to commend you for having the foresight to bring these young people here
to the Nation's capitol to be a part of this important legislative process. The courage of
these young people to testify must be rewarded with our undivided attention as they help
us understand the frightening reality behind the statistics we read about with increasing
frequency.

This generation is growing up in fear, afraid to walk around after dark, afraid to
talk to others for fear of offense. Twenty four percent of children, according to a recent
Newsweek/ Children's Defense Fund survey, report having witnessed someone being
threatened by a gun and seventeen percent have seen someone shot. Exposure to this kind
of violence has an impact not only on the children wounded by the weapons but on those
who witness H and those who hear about it. It is clear that we must take immediate action
to ameliorate this national trauma.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics since 1988 teenage boys in the
United States are more likely to die from gunshot wounds than from aU natural causes
combined. For African American males the impact of guns is even more terrifying for they
are the leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds.



Schools, traditional safe zones, are no longer are able to cope with the over 100,000
children that carry guns to school every day.

Our failure to control one of the most obvious factors contributing to youth violence
- gun proliferation serves to legitimize this form of violence and maintains it, damning the
next generation to a future riddled with the corpses of their friends and loved ones. The
stories we will hear today provide all the impetus we need to pass legislation that prohibits
the possession of a firearms by minors.

Millions of our children will go through the process of being issued temporary
drivers training permits, take written and driving tests behind the wheel and stand in long
lines just to be issued the right to get a license to drive a car. We even do a better job
controlling the accessibility to cigarettes than we do the accessibility of guns.

Many of kids are already carrying guns before they can even drive. This is a
national tragedy. I invite all opponents of our efforts to enact handgun legislation to hear
the stories of these children and the futures they have seen destroyed. Guns do not belong
in our schools, on our playgrounds or at the swimming pool.

We are now engaged in a fierce debate over a crime bill that wants to lock many of
our children away for a long time. While it does contain some constructive youth
programs, it also wants to punish young people for the nation's failure to address the
causes of violence, poverty, gun proliferation and few job opportunities. One particularly
punitive measure; children aged 13 and over will be charged as adults.



8



We cannot talk about getting guns out of our children's lives without some talk
about new remedies, and new approaches that will create an environment where our
children can grow, learn, and develop into responsible adults.

The answers to many of the problems will hear today are addressed in H.R. 3315 the
Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Reform Act sponsored by Rep. Craig Washington,
myself and many other thoughtful members. Our bill h a sensible and thoughtful approach
to crime that supports a variety of programs to prevent violence against women and
children; place a ban on terrible assault weapons, tightens gun licensing laws, provide drug
treatment, encourage economic development, and job training.

Successful community intervention programs like Detroit's Save Our Sons and
Daughters, run by Clementine Barfield, must be encouraged and complement the efforts
of the federal government. These are the strategies that we should be seriously considering
as we talk about solutions that will bring real promise to the slogan "save the children."



9

Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. Smith of Texas.

Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I think this hearing today can serve a useful pur-
pose. We know that the point of the hearing is to discuss, in gen-
eral, violence in America but more specifically violence aimed to-
ward children, particularly violence committed with firearms and
other types of weapons. But I don't think we really advance the de-
bate of how to reduce violence in America by referring to law-abid-
ing citizens, who may be members of the American Shooting Sports
Council, who happen to be in town as individuals, who wear Gucci
loafers, fly first class, and wear silk suits. I think we would be able
to advance the debate far better on how to reduce violence in
America if we were to focus as much attention as we are today on
how violence wreaks havoc on the lives of children, on the need for
rehabilitation, on the need for punishment of criminals, particu-
larly repeat criminals, because I happen to believe that no matter
how many times we beat up on law-abiding citizens, we are really
never going to reduce crime in America.

We need to address the two points that I just made, rehabilita-
tion and punishment, but we also need to recognize that no matter
how many gun control laws we pass, no matter how many police
officers we put in the street, we are really never going to solve the
problem of violence in America until we address the core values
that underlie the actions that result in crimes. And until we in so-
ciety do a better job of respecting law and order, do a better job
of setting standards of right and wrong, and do a better job of
pointing out the need for self-discipline and respect of other's pri-
vate property and respect of other's lives, we are really never going
to reduce crime in general and particularly violence in America.

So I hope that this committee in the future will spend a great
deal of time talking about the illegal use of guns and how we can
prevent that type of violence from reoccurring here in America.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. SCHUMER. Thank you, Mr. Smith.

Mr. Glickman.

Mr. Glickman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I think this is a very important hearing and, Chuck, you have
been out in front of this issue like nobody else here on the Hill. You
deserve special praise for it. We passed a bill last year which I had
the privilege of sponsoring which would make it a crime for a youth
under 18 to possess a handgun or for an adult to transfer a hand-
gun to a youth. I want to know if that will make any difference to
you all.

I am interested in hearing what the kids here have to say about
why they have guns and other issues involving schools, like are you
afraid at school and is there anything that can be done to make
you less afraid of firearms in schools?

We have this problem with the drug — with the gun free school
zones, that the courts have taken kind of a mixed attitude on, but
I am really interested to know personal perspectives about vio-
lence, because a lot of the problems of crime cannot be solved with
Federal legislation at all. It has to be solved with attitudinal
change, with cultural change, and with basically things unrelated
to the laws, although a lot of the stuff we can do can help.



10

So how you really feel about this problem is going to have a great


1 3 4 5

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JCaught in the crossfire : kids talk about guns : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, February, 3, 1994 → online text (page 1 of 5)