People hold up their phones during a prayer and candle vigil organised by the city after a shooting left 20 people dead in El Paso, Texas, August 4 2019. Picture: AFP/MARK RALSTON
People hold up their phones during a prayer and candle vigil organised by the city after a shooting left 20 people dead in El Paso, Texas, August 4 2019. Picture: AFP/MARK RALSTON

Washington — On Thursday, CEOs of 145 of the US’s most well-known companies called on the US Congress to take action to tackle gun violence, including expanding background checks and strengthening so-called red-flag laws, according to media reports.

In a letter to legislators, 145 company heads urged meaningful action following several mass shootings across the US that have most recently hit communities in 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, according to the New York Times, which first reported the correspondence.

Those signing up include the heads of Gap, Levi Strauss and Dick’s Sporting Goods, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Uber Technologies, Twitter, 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. The Washington Post also reported the letter.

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 America.

More mass shootings followed, including at a church in South Carolina, a music festival in Las Vegas, and a high school in Florida. In August shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas — including in a Walmart — prompted renewed debate.

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

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, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, and prohibit people convicted of violent hate crime misdemeanors from possessing firearms.

The Senate, led by 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 on the law requiring gun sale background checks, but it remains unclear whether Trump will support it.

Polls have shown that nearly half of Americans expect another mass shooting to happen soon in the US.

Reuters