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Questions raised over Biden gun measure

By BELINDA ROBINSON in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2023-09-25 07:36

An attendee with a sad face in the crowd holds a picture of his relative during an event announcing a new White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, in the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday. JACQUELYN MARTIN/AP

Raging gun violence in the United States has led President Joe Biden to establish a White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, with experts saying it is yet to be seen whether it will deliver meaningful change.

Gun control campaigners have long called for such an office, saying it would help coordinate federal efforts. There have been more than 500 mass shootings in the country this year. In the first eight months of the year gun violence took an average of more than 123 lives a day.

Kris Brown, president of Brady, a gun safety advocacy group, said: "Brady long advocated and fought for an Office of Gun Violence Prevention even before President Biden took office.

"Tackling this epidemic will take a whole-of-government approach, and this new office will ensure the executive branch is focused and coordinated on proven solutions that will save lives."

While campaigners have welcomed the new office, experts on gun control strategy say it is yet to be seen whether it will deliver meaningful change. For any meaningful improvement, measures such as improved background checks and an all-out ban on military-style assault weapons are needed, they say.

Over 123 people have died per day from gun violence in the US this year, up until Sept 1, including 1,051 teenagers and 220 children.

Experts suggest a more holistic approach — such as implementing enhanced background checks and an all-out ban on military-style assault weapons is desperately needed.

Strong move required

Jeffrey Fagan, an expert on policing, crime and gun control and Professor of Law at Columbia Law School in New York, said: "Every little bit helps, including research, to slow the epidemic of gun violence. However, unless there are strong measures to reduce the supply of firearms, and also the legality of firearms, this will have little effect on the unacceptably high rates of both lethal and nonlethal firearm violence."

In an event at the White House on Friday Biden said he was proud to establish the new office.

Republicans, who control the US House of Representatives, have pushed for more gun rights nationwide at the state level this year. They have the support of the powerful gun rights group the National Rifle Association.

Republicans in Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, Texas and Virginia have called for the abolition of background checks and "red-flag "laws, and for fewer gun-free zones that limit where people can carry a firearm around others in public, saying such measures infringe on constitutional rights.

The US has more guns than people, with about 390 million firearms in circulation in 2018 — more than one gun for every man, woman and child — a Swiss research project has estimated.

Carl T. Bogus, professor of Law at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, said: "We know that rigorous gun control does work because other nations with similar crime levels do not have the same levels of lethal violence, simply because guns are less prevalent."

In the first eight months of the year, there had been more mass shootings in the US than days in the year. The Gun Violence Archive, an online group based in Washington, defines a mass shooting as being when more than four people are shot together.

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