Today's Papers

Don’t Take Your Guns to Town

The Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Times all lead with Smith & Wesson’s deal with the government to implement a variety policies to promote gun safety. In exchange for the new policies, the federal government (and several state governments) agreed to drop existing civil suits against the gun manufacturer and to file no new suits.

Smith & Wesson has agreed to abide by a number of provisions aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and out of the reach of children. Some of the major provisions: Within 60 days all the handguns the company produces must have external locking devices, within 24 months all guns must be equipped with an internal locking device, every gun must have a second hidden serial number, and Smith & Wesson is to take responsibility for ensuring that its distributors and dealers enforce background checks before selling any firearms at gun shows.

The LAT and the NYT off-lead Madeleine Albright’s announcement that the U.S. will remove a few of its economic sanctions against Iran. The move, geared towards normalizing economic ties between the two countries, was made as a gesture to moderates who fared well in Iran’s recent parliamentary elections. Albright noted, however, that full diplomatic relations would not resume until Iran is removed from the State Department’s list of countries that support terrorism. Albright’s comments also included an acknowledgment of–but no apology for–a number of diplomatic missteps in past dealings with Iran. There was no immediate reaction from the Iranian government.

The WP fronts a story on Gore’s fund-raising dilemma: How to maintain a firm, credible stance on campaign-finance reform while courting the super-rich for donations. Gore, who has continually scrambled to defend his position on fund raising, asserts that he is merely playing the game of politics according to the rules that currently govern it and that the only way he can reform the process is to participate in it.

The accounts of what led New York undercover detective Anthony Vasquez to shoot and kill Patrick Dorismond vary. Each side has begun to put forward its version of the events. The NYT fronts the remarks made by Vasquez’s lawyer, who contends that Dorismond became belligerent and made a grab at Vasquez’s gun, causing it to fire accidentally. Witnesses to the shooting have said that Dorismond was not the aggressor and that he did not provoke the attack. In a curious defense of the detective, Mayor Giuliani suggested that because Dorismond had a substantial criminal record, he posed a particular and grave threat to Vasquez, who, as a result, ought to be given the benefit of the doubt in this case. The NYT dutifully looked into Dorismond’s record and found that Giuliani had clearly exaggerated both its length and the severity of the offenses it recorded.

The LAT fronts Taiwan’s presidential election (a story that the WP runs as a reefer). The most serious concern voters face is how the outcome will affect relations with China, which recently demanded that Taiwan reunify with the mainland or else risk military attack. Vice President Lien Chan (who previously supported Taiwanese independence) was an early favorite to win the presidency, but the voters’ fear of a harsh Chinese response to his victory has since robbed Lien of his momentum.

The WP fronts the story that the U.N. will distribute one condom per day to each of its male troops headed to Congo and Sierra Leone. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. testified that HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases have become a serious problem among peacekeeping forces. The WP points out what the U.N. refuses to acknowledge–that troops sent into unstable regions can potentially do more harm than good. Their presence can create a market for prostitution and, relatedly, the trafficking of women; and in certain regions the presence of peacekeepers has been linked to the spread of AIDS.

The WP and the LAT front coverage of a police search for Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin–formerly Black Panther and civil rights activist H. Rap Brown–for allegedly killing one sheriff’s deputy and critically wounding another as they tried to arrest him on a theft charge. The surviving deputy identified Al-Amin in a photo lineup.

The NYT stuffs a report on the latest investigation into Waco. On Sunday, a group of government officials and private lawyers will watch a simulation of the standoff with the Branch Davidians to determine whether federal agents fired into the sect’s compound before it burned to the ground. Lawyers for the survivors and descendants of the Branch Davidians hope that the field tests will yield evidence beneficial to the wrongful-death lawsuits they’ve filed against the government; the government, in turn, hopes that it will be exonerated once and for all by the results of the tests.