Last year, more than 13,000 people were killed in the US by firearms, and twice as many injured. There were 372 mass shootings, claiming 475 lives, and 64 incidents in schools alone. Now at least another 50 people have died in an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in the worst mass shooting in the country’s history.
There are an estimated 300 million guns in America – almost one for everyone in the population. The authorities can prevent known supporters of Isis from flying but not from buying a gun – such is the lobbying power of pro-gun groups such as the National Rifle Association.
Surely, the scale of the carnage in Orlando means that something has got to change. There is public support for tightening the laws. A deeply frustrated Barack Obama has long wanted to push through overdue reforms but has been blocked by the US Congress. The gun lobby holds sway – especially in the House of Representatives, where the Republicans have a majority of 58.
The President has vowed to take executive action to increase background checks on people buying guns. Congress should now allow him to go further before he leaves the White House next January. It would be a fitting legacy for a historic presidency.
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