TIGHTER CONTROL OF GUN DEALERS SOUGHT The Clinton administration asked Congress Jan. 4 to require gun dealers to pay $600 a year for licenses and estimates the sharp increase will drastically reduce the number of dealers. Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen unveiled the proposal to raise the fee along with others intended to give authorities more control over the 244,000 licensed firearms dealers. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms estimates that 80 percent of dealers would not renew their licenses if forced to pay $600 a year, roughly what it costs to process the applications and inspect dealers. Since 1968, the license has cost $30 for three years. The vast majority of firearms dealers obtained licenses, usually without a background check, to buy weapons at deep discounts and to avoid state and local restrictions. The fee was raised to $200 for new licenses and $90 for renewals in the recently enacted gun-control measure known as the Brady bill. UN commander asks to quit
The head of the UN peacekeeping forces in Bosnia has asked to be relieved of his duties, citing the strains of a mission he recently criticized as too idealistic. It was not known who would replace Belgian Lt. Gen. Francis Briquemont, who has been in the post since July 12. He is the third UN commander in Bosnia since the mission began in the spring of 1992. His immediate predecessor also criticized international support for UN peacekeeping operations. Meanwhile, Bosnian and Croatian leaders opened talks in Vienna Jan. 4. Both military and humanitarian matters were on the agenda. Lobbyists sue over tax
The American Society of Association Executives and 10 other groups have sued the US government in an effort to overturn a new law ending the deductibility of lobbying costs from taxable income as a business expense. For most groups that lobby, that means an immediate jump of as much as 35 percent in their costs. The plaintiffs say the action amounts to an unconstitutional tax on free speech and association. Venezuela prison riot
The death toll in one of Venezuela's fiercest prison riots was expected to rise above 100 after rioting inmates shot and stabbed each other with homemade knives in an spate of violence Jan 3. Teams searching the Sabaneta prison in Maracaibo, 325 miles west of Caracas, said Jan. 4 they would likely find more bodies in the rubble created when rampaging prisoners set fire to the overcrowded jail. It was the third uprising in two days. Riots are common in Venezuelan prisons, where human rights groups say conditions are deplorable. But officials said this was one of the worst in their history. Retiring congressmen
After 17 years in Congress, Rep. Doug Applegate (D) of Ohio said Jan. 3 he is ready to retire and recommended that other old-timers do the same. And Rep. Tom Lewis (R) of Florida, who has served 11 years in the House, said he also would not seek reelection in November. The congressmen are the 24th and 25th incumbents so far this term to announce they will not seek reelection to the 435-member House. Ukraine leader invited
Russian President Boris Yeltsin Jan. 4 invited Ukraine's president Leonid Kravchuk to join in the summit with President Clinton in Moscow this month. Mr. Kravchuk probably will accept the offer, his spokesman said. In Moscow, the Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified high-placed Russian diplomat as saying Russia's goal would be to pressure Ukraine to eliminate its nuclear weapons. Maxwell suit settled
Admitting no wrongdoing, Bank of America agreed Jan. 4 to pay $37 million to settle claims from a pension plan looted by the late publisher Robert Maxwell. Trustees for the pension plan of Maxwell's former newspaper company, Mirror Group, had been seeking $56 million each from Bank of America and Zurich-based Credit Suisse. They will continue their suit against Credit Suisse.