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Biden moves on gun control as another five die in mass shooting

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US President Joe Biden has announced six executive orders aimed at addressing a proliferation of gun violence across the country that he says is an “epidemic and an international embarrassment”, on a day when another five people were killed in a mass shooting – this time in South Carolina.

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“The idea that we have so many people dying every single day from gun violence in America is a blemish on our character as a nation,” Biden said during remarks at the White House on Thursday.

Family members whose children were killed at the Sandy Hook, Connecticut, school massacre in 2012 and the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 attended the hearing and Biden thanked them for attending, saying he understood it would remind them of the awful days when they got the calls.

Biden’s announcement delivers on a pledge the president made last month to take what he termed immediate “common-sense steps” to address gun violence, after a series of mass shootings drew renewed attention to the issue.

His announcement came the same day as yet another, this one in South Carolina, where former NFL player Phillip Adams shot a prominent doctor, his wife and their two grandchildren before shooting himself, according to authorities.

Biden emphasised the scope of the problem: between the mass killings in Atlanta massage businesses and the Colorado grocery store shooting last month, there were more than 850 additional shootings that killed 250 and injured 500 in the US, he said.

His executive orders tighten regulations on homemade guns and provide more resources for gun-violence prevention but fall far short of the sweeping gun-control agenda he laid out on the campaign trail.

Biden reiterated his call for Congress to act, urging the Senate to take up House-passed measures closing background check loopholes.

He also said Congress should pass the Violence Against Women Act, eliminate legal exemptions for gun manufacturers and ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

“This is not a partisan issue among the American people,” Biden insisted.

While Biden asserted that he’s “willing to work with anyone to get it done,” gun control measures face slim prospects in an evenly divided Senate where Republicans remain near-unified against most proposals.

Most of the actions he announced will go through the Justice Department.

-with AAP

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