Handgun Crimes Hit Record Rate in 1992

ALMOST a million crimes involving handguns happened in the United States in 1992 (the most recent year for which data are available), and the victims of these attacks were most likely to be young black males, the Justice Department says.

Handguns were used in a growing percentage of violent crimes, because handgun use was up while overall nonfatal violent crimes dropped in 1992, the department said Sunday.

Well before these precise numbers were available, Congress responded to reports of growing handgun use by passing the Brady bill last November. Signed by President Clinton, that law requires a five-day waiting period before completing handgun sales, so that local police can check the background of the purchasers. It took effect at the end of February.

There were 917,500 nonfatal crimes committed with handguns in 1992, 50 percent above the average for the previous five years. In addition, there were 13,200 handgun homicides that year, 24 percent more than the five-year average, the FBI reported.

Young black males were the group most victimized by handgun crime. There were 39.7 handgun crimes against them for every 1,000 black males ages 16 to 19. That was four times the rate for young white males, 9.5 crimes per 1,000. Seeking a couple's last farthing

THE government is giving new meaning to the Biblical command to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's - and religious groups are fuming.

The Justice Department is arguing in a Minnesota bankruptcy case that a couple who could not pay their debts had no right to keep giving money to their church.

Critics say the Clinton administration's position undermines a law signed just last year by President Clinton that is designed to protect worshipers from government interference.

``Unfortunately the Clinton administration, with breathtaking speed, has interpreted the act in a manner that effectively guts it,'' says Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah, co-author of the new law.

At issue is an attempt by creditors to collect the $13,500 that Bruce and Nancy Young gave to the Crystal Evangelical Free Church of New Hope, Minn., in the year before they filed for bankruptcy. The Youngs observed the Old Testament practice of tithing, giving the church each week 10 percent of the gross earnings from their electrical contracting business.

Before filing for bankruptcy, debtors can spend their money on anything as long as they get something of value for it. To prevent people from hiding their assets, the bankruptcy code allows creditors to seize any money that debtors have given away. In 1993, a bankruptcy judge ordered the church to give creditors the money the Youngs had donated that year.

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