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Biden signs gun bill


Washington, US | Xinhua | U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law what has been described as a gun safety bill as shootings continue to take a toll on the nation.

The legislation, signed on Saturday morning, takes effect a month after a gunman broke into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers in a rampage that has triggered nationwide demonstrations against gun violence and political inaction.

There have been more than 21,000 deaths from gun violence and 281 mass shootings across the United States so far this year, according to the latest data from the Gun Violence Archive.

“I know there’s much more to do,” Biden said from the White House before leaving for a trip to Europe.

The bill enhances background checks for gun buyers aged 18-21, makes getting firearms through straw purchases or trafficking a federal offense and clarifies the definition of a federally licensed firearm dealer.

It also includes funding for mental health treatment and for states to administer so-called “Red Flag” laws that allow law enforcement — with a court order — to temporarily seize guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Two days earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York state law that places restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun outside the home, which is likely to complicate efforts to curb gun violence.

“I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling,” Biden said in a statement on Thursday. “This ruling contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all.”

Guns are deeply ingrained in U.S. society and the nation’s political and social debates.

The United States has more guns than any other nation in the world — and that number continues to grow, mainly because of its constitution that protects the right to keep and bear arms and lobbying from gun rights groups.

American gun owners possess 393.3 million weapons, or 120 firearms per 100 citizens, according to a 2018 report by the Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based organization. ■

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