CEOs call on US Senate to crack down on gun violence

Corporate chiefs from wide variety of American companies send letter to upper house of Congress demanding swift action.

    US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have demanded that the US Senate vote on the House-passed Bipartisan Background Checks Act already passed by the House [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]
    US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have demanded that the US Senate vote on the House-passed Bipartisan Background Checks Act already passed by the House [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

    Well over 100 chief executives of some of the most well-known companies in the United States on Thursday called on the country's senate to take action on gun violence, by expanding background checks and strengthening so-called red flag laws.

    In a letter to legislators, 145 company heads urged meaningful gun control legislation following a string of mass shootings across the nation that have most recently left communities reeling in the states of Texas, Ohio, Nevada and South Carolina. 

    "Doing nothing about America's gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety," the letter to the Republican-led US Senate said.

    Those signing the missive included the heads of Gap Inc, Levi Strauss & Co and Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. They also included Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Uber Technologies Inc, Twitter Inc and Amalgamated Bank.

    "We are writing to you because we have a responsibility and obligation to stand up for the safety of our employees, customers and all Americans in the communities we serve across the country," they said.

    "Background checks and Extreme Risk laws (also referred to as 'Red Flag laws') are proven to save lives," the letter continued. "Since Congress established the background check system 25 years ago, background checks have blocked more than 3.5 million gun sales to prohibited purchasers, including to convicted felons, domestic abusers, and people who have been involuntarily committed."

    "However, in the decades since, the law requiring background checks on gun sales has not been updated to reflect how people buy guns today."

    Modifying the laws

    Legislators have struggled to address gun violence after the 2012 killing of 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut stoked debate over gun control in the US.

    More mass shootings followed, including at a church in South Carolina, a music festival in Las Vegas and a high school in Florida. This summer, shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas - including in a Walmart - sparked fresh debate.

    Walmart Inc and other stores have since called on patrons not to openly carry firearms in their stores, prompting protests from opponents who object to curbing gun rights.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, polls have shown that nearly half of all Americans expect another mass shooting to happen soon in the US.

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    The US House of Representatives, led by Democrats, quickly took up measures addressing gun violence as legislators returned to Washington this week.

    These include three bills that seek to remove guns from people deemed a risk, outlaw high-capacity ammunition magazines and prohibit people convicted of violent hate-crime misdemeanours from possessing firearms.

    The Senate, led by US President Donald Trump's fellow Republicans, has so far stayed on the sidelines, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looking to the White House for guidance.

    On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of US senators said they wanted to revive a failed 2013 bill to close loopholes in the law requiring gun sale background checks, but it remained unclear whether Trump would support it.