WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday passage of a bill requring a five-day waiting period for purchase of a handgun will be only the first step in clearing America's streets of assault weapons.
'We need to ban assault weapons that have no sporting purposes,' Reno said, stating a position that goes beyond President Clinton's new anti-crime initiative.
The Brady bill, named for Jim Brady, the press secretary seriously wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan, calls for a five-day waiting period and a background check before a handgun purchase.
Clinton issued an executive order on Tuesday that halts the import of foreign assault pistols, sometimes called machine pistols. Assault rifles are already banned. American-made semi-automatic weapons are not affected.
When asked for specifics on continuing gun control efforts by the administration, Reno gave only 'personal views' she said she developed in her service as a state prosecutor.
Reno said she felt in Florida that there should be 'one uniform state license for any kind of weapon,' including handguns and rifles. She endorsed 'some kind of a test' to make sure someone knows how to use a firearm before the license is granted.
In an interview with reporters at the Justice Department, Reno said she is comfortable in leading the effort to pass Clinton's anti-crime initiative even though the proposal would expand the death penalty and probably shorten the appeals process for death sentences.
Reno has said she is 'morally opposed to the death penalty.'
The legislation would limit habeas appeals -- appeals on fresh grounds -- in the federal courts to one during a six-month period. This could drastically shorten the time between a death sentence and the actual execution, a process that now sometimes consumes decades.
Reno said she did not feel this is unfair, especially if, as provided in the crime initiative, federal law would require that indigent defendants be provided with lawyers who meet strict competence standards.
Reno said she is satisfied the investigation into the suicide of deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster involved no wrongdoing, even though she ordered a Justice Department review.
Reno refused to be drawn into the debate on whether the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms should be merged into the FBI.
A plan drawn up by a task force led by Vice President Albert Gore, but not yet made public, reportedly recommends the merger.
'I have a very definite goal to do everything I can to avoid duplication, fragmentation...' Reno said. Without endorsing such a merger, Reno called for more coordination of law enforcement agencies on every level.