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China Daily Global / 2021-03 / 05 / Page007

US mulls new curbs on guns after record sales

By MAY ZHOU in Houston | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-03-05 00:00

A man and a woman were found shot dead in a vehicle in Louisville, Kentucky. A 29-year-old was shot at his residence in Dallas, Texas. A 25-year-old man was shot to death while on a sidewalk in Chicago.

They were among almost 50 people shot and killed in the US on the last day of 2020, according to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group that catalogs every incident of gun violence in the United States.

At least 19,365 people died from gun violence in 2020, a more than 25 percent jump from the previous year. The number of mass shootings, categorized by the deaths of four or more people, jumped by about 50 percent in the same period.

The year also saw a boom in gun sales.

The FBI said it processed a record 39.7 million firearms background checks in 2020, more than 10 million up over 2019, the most of any year since the agency started recording the data in 1998.

With gun-shooting deaths and sales of guns hitting a record in 2020, the Biden administration has been reaching out to gun-control advocates since mid-February.

The administration effort is led by Susan Rice, director of the Domestic Policy Council, and Cedric Richmond, director of the Office of Public Engagement.

Several meetings were held with prominent groups pushing for gun restrictions, community-based groups asking for billions of dollars in program funding, and survivors of gun violence.

Numerous groups and individuals have been pushing the government to act on gun control. A group of 12 Senate Democrats led by Dianne Feinstein of California sent a letter to Biden urging him to nominate a permanent director to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, and empower that person to enact a raft of executive gun control measures.

Four big-city mayors, including Chicago's Lori Lightfoot and Los Angeles' Eric Garcetti, wrote a CNN opinion piece that called on Biden to "create a gun violence prevention task force to coordinate efforts across every corner of the administration and every city in the country" and "sign a series of executive orders to begin the real work of addressing gun violence in our cities".

Executive action

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said he recommended the administration take executive action to close the so-called Charleston loophole that allows a gun to be transferred from licensed gun dealers before a completed background check.

But Biden aides were reluctant, Blumenthal said.

The White House is expected to stick with campaign promises to support legislation rather than issuing an executive order to close the Charleston loophole. It is also considering measures designed to keep guns away from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others and to establish safety storage standards for firearms, said news portal

As vice-president during the Barack Obama presidency, Biden tried to push through legislation on expanded background checks after the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 first-graders and six school employees.

The shooter, Adam Lanza, shot himself to death. The bill requiring expanded background checks failed in the Senate.


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