Janet Reno: Waiting Period for Firearms Only the First Step, Prohibition the Goal-Mostly Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno said that a waiting period for firearms purchases was only the first step, and total prohibition was the ultimate goal.
Janet Reno said that establishing a waiting period for firearms purchases was
just a first step” in gun control in 1993. But Reno said she didn’t support a total prohibition on private firearms when she served under President Clinton in the 1990s.
It’s not clear where this rumor came from, but it’s persistent. It’s been in circulation for years, and it tends to resurface when the national gun control debate flares up. The rumor goes that Janet Reno said that a total prohibition of firearms was the ultimate goal in a December 10, 1993, appearance on Good Morning America. It resurfaced again after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018.
First, it doesn’t appear that Janet Reno was on Good Morning America on December 10, 1993. An IMDB page for the show lists actors Terri Hatcher and Dean Cain as the only guests that day. It’s possible, however, that footage of Janet Reno discussing gun control was featured on the show — even if she wasn’t an in-studio guest. And Reno did take part in a lengthy press conference on Capitol Hill the day earlier, on December 9, 1993.
Questions during the December 9th press conference focused mostly on proposed licensing requirements for gun owners and a proposed federal registry of gun owners. When asked about licensing, Reno said, “I don’t think somebody should have a gun unless they can demonstrate that they know how to safely and lawfully use it, that they’re capable of safely and lawfully using it, and that they’re willing to safely and lawfully use it.” When asked about a federal registry, she replied, “I don’t like it. I don’t think it serves a purpose.”
The line of questioning then shifted slightly to possibly limiting the number of firearms available. A reporter said that the police chief of Los Angeles said that there should be “some kind of limitation on the number of guns that can be available, or that can exist in any given jurisdiction.” Asked if she’d support that, Reno said she’d have to address the chief’s proposal before she could “comment intelligently” on the proposal. Then asked if she’d support any proposal at all to limit the number of guns available, Reno answered, “no.”
Janet Reno did, however, comment in August 1993 that establishing a probationary period for firearm purchases under the Brady Bill was “just the first step in gun control.” UPI reports that Reno said, “We need to ban assault weapons that have no sporting purposes.” And the Clinton administration succeeded in passing an assault weapons ban in 1994 — and Congress allowed the assault weapons ban to lapse in 2004.
So, Janet Reno’s comments don’t indicate that she ever supported a total gun ban. She supported a ban on assault weapons without sporting purposes, but she didn’t support a prohibition on all private firearms. That’s why we’re calling this one “mostly fiction.”