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US gun lobby chief rejects tougher firearm laws after latest mass shootings

The head of the powerful gun lobby in the United States has rejected calls for tougher restrictions on firearms, claiming they would not have prevented the recent mass shootings in the states of Texas and Ohio.

The director of the National Rifle Association (NRA), Wayne LaPierre, said Thursday that he had spoken to US President Donald Trump since the two massacres that left 31 dead.

“I’m not inclined to discuss private conversations with President Trump or other key leaders on this issue,” LaPierre said in a statement.

“But I can confirm that the NRA opposes any legislation that unfairly infringes upon the rights of law-abiding citizens. The inconvenient truth is this: the proposals being discussed by many would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton.”

Trump has not publicly acknowledged any conversation with LaPierre since the shootings. But The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, said the NRA boss warned the president in a telephone call on Tuesday against backing tougher background checks.

In a statement on Thursday, the gun lobby accused US presidential candidates of trying to politicize the deadly mass shootings.

“Unfortunately, aspiring presidential candidates immediately took to the airwaves this past weekend to politicize these tragedies, and to demonize the NRA and its 5 million law-abiding members,” the statement said.

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The mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, has sparked renewed calls for the US Congress to pass legislation to prevent gun violence.

On Thursday, more than 200 mayors urged the US Senate to approve legislation, already passed by the lower House of Representatives, that would require background checks for all gun purchases and regulate secondary sales.

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected calls on Thursday for reconvening the Senate, which is currently in its August recess, to vote on measures to address gun violence.

“We’re going to have these bipartisan discussions and when we get back (from the recess), hopefully, be able to come together and actually pass something,” McConnell said during an interview to a radio station in his home state of Kentucky.

Trump said this week he supported proposed legislation that would block gun sales to people with mental health issues.

But LaPierre said measures under discussion would make millions of Americans “less safe and less able to defend themselves and their loved ones.”

Last year, Amnesty International warned that the gun violence situation in the US has grown into a full blown “human rights crisis” and the Trump administration was doing little to solve it.

According to Amnesty, an average of 106 individuals died a day from firearm-related incidents in 2016, totaling 38,658. Of that figure, nearly 23,000 were suicides and more than 14,400 were homicides.

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