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Friday, May 21, 1999 Published at 07:01 GMT 08:01 UK

World: Americas

New gun law follows school shooting

Students were having breakfast when gunman struck

The United States Senate has approved new measures to curb gun ownership shortly after another school shooting left six pupils injured, one critically, in an incident in Georgia.

The measures, which were approved as part of a bill to fight juvenile crime, come exactly one month after the country's worst ever school shooting, at Columbine High School, Colorado.

The bill will require background checks to be made on those attempting to buy firearms at America's 5,000 or so annual gun shows.

Rob Watson: "The shooting had a dramatic effect on the Senate"
Vice President Al Gore used his constitutional role as Senate president to cast the deciding vote when Senators were split 50-50 on the restrictions.

He said that, while the deeper causes for youth violence had to be addressed, gun controls were an obvious first step.

New attack

The latest shooting took place on Thursday morning as students were having breakfast at Heritage High School, near the town of Conyers, east of Atlanta.

A 15-year-old girl was in a stable but critical condition at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital after being shot in the stomach by a fellow student.

[ image:  ]
Five others were less seriously injured.

On the same day President Clinton made a scheduled visit to Columbine High School, one month after 12 students and a teacher were killed by two teenage gunmen there.

Speaking to the assembled students, Mr Clinton urged Congress to forge ahead with stricter gun control measures in the light of the latest attack, which he called "deeply troubling".

Mr Clinton told students and their families their experience had changed America. "What happened to you has pierced the soul of America," he said.

Bill Cliinton: "This news is deeply troubling"
Gun control activists say the recent shootings and the subsequent moves in the Senate represent a historic moment in America's complex gun politics and a major defeat for the powerful gun lobby.

But in order to become law the Senate bill must also pass the House of Representatives, where it will face further pressure from America's powerful gun lobby.

Suspect arrested

A 15-year-old white male was arrested immediately after the Georgia shooting and a .22 rifle recovered.

BBC Washington Correspondent Philippa Thomas: "Police have sent robots into the school to check for explosive devices"
Police have not named the youth but said he was a student at the school. Schoolmates said he had recently broken up with his girlfriend.

Students said the gunman walked into the school cafeteria carrying a shotgun, fired several times then ran back outside.

"Some guy was in front of the girls' bathroom in the common area, just firing off shots," said student Bill Price.

He said people thought is was a prank at first and took no notice.

"Then people just took off running. Then we looked at one of our friends, and his foot was bleeding," he said.

Teacher Tony Gray said the student immediately surrendered to the assistant principal.

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