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Washington, June 3 (IANS) US President Joe Biden has urged Congress to take action on gun violence in a prime-time address from the White House.
In his address on Thursday night, he urged Congress to ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, or at least raise the purchasing age from 18 to 21, reports Xinhua news agency.
Other proposals included expanding background checks, passing “red flag” laws and repeating the liability shield for gun manufacturers and dealers.
The remarks came after the US was shaken by a spat of mass shootings over the past few weeks.
Biden traveled to Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday to meet families of the victims and survivors of a school shooting on May 24, in which the 18-year-old gunman, killed by responding officers on the scene, used an AR-15-style rifle, a popular range of semiautomatic weapons, to kill 19 children and two teachers.
Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are negotiating gun reform measures but it is unclear how much talk would be turned into action.
Also on Thursday, a committee in the House approved along the party line a package of gun control legislation, a response to the recent mass shootings.
Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, dismissed the package as partisan.
“No one wants another tragedy. No one wants this to happen again. That’s why it’s regretful that Democrats have hastened to a markup today in what seems more like political theater than a real attempt at improving public safety or finding solutions,” he said.
Republicans deem such measures, including restricting gun buyers’ age and the sale of magazines, as unconstitutional and depriving Americans of the right to defend themselves.
Representative Dan Bishop, Republican of North Carolina, said that “you are not going to bully your way into stripping Americans of fundamental rights”.
Representative Jamie Raskin, Democratic of Maryland, accused Republicans of “misleading the American public about the Second Amendment”.
“My colleagues are throwing up the Second Amendment as a smokescreen to protect their opposition to any reasonable gun safety regulation,” he said.
In a recent survey of all 50 Republicans in the Senate by The New York Times, most Republicans who had responded either declined to take a position or signaled they would oppose the measures, worrying about infringing on the rights of gun owners.
So far this year, the US has seen at least 233 mass shootings with more than 18,000 deaths due to gun violence, according to the nonprofit organization Gun Violence Archive.
A mass shooting is defined as one in which four or more people were injured or killed,
The US has more guns than any other nation in the world, and that number continues to grow each year.
There are estimated 400 million guns in the US between police, the military and American civilians, and over 393 million of these guns are in civilian hands, the equivalent of 120 firearms per 100 citizens, according to a 2018 report on global firearms holdings by the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey.