Mayor Edward G. Rendell and the National Rifle Association have agreed to work together to seek federal money for a crackdown on gun violence, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday.
Wayne LaPierre, the NRA chief executive officer, said Thursday that his organization would lobby with the GOP leadership in Congress to give Philadelphia money to make it a "test city."NRA President Charlton Heston first floated the idea at the group's recent convention, asking President Clinton to designate one city for zero tolerance of gun violence. The idea is to demonstrate the NRA's view that lack of enforcement of existing gun laws lies at the root of gun violence, not a lack of gun-control laws.
On Sunday, he appeared on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press" and talked up a program in Richmond, Va., that has cut murders in half.
"We would like to do that in Philadelphia," Heston said then.
LaPierre urged Rendell to lobby President Clinton for the program.
"If he'll get the White House, I've got Congress," LaPierre said. "That's the historic opportunity here."
Meanwhile, Rendell continued his drive against gun violence on another front, pressuring gun-makers to take steps to curb sales to criminals. On Sunday in Reno, Nev., at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Rendell is scheduled to make the case for gun control, such as limiting buyers to one gun a month. The mayor will discuss the issue before 300 mayors in a forum with the head of the gunmakers' trade organization.
Among top U.S. cities, Philadelphia has the highest proportion of murders and robberies committed by gun. Last year, a record 82 percent of 409 homicides were by firearms. By contrast, the rate in New York was 62 percent.