Nearly 150 US business chiefs press Congress for action on guns

A member of the US Congress wears a 'Background Checks Save Lives' sticker during a news conference announcing the introduction of 'bipartisan legislation to expand background checks for sales and transfers of firearms' on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this Jan. 8, 2019 file photo. — Reuters

WASHINGTON — Leaders of 145 top US corporations have called for passage of a law requiring background checks on all gun sales and allowing courts to take guns from "extreme risk" individuals.

The CEOs laid out their concerns in a letter on Wednesday to leaders of the US Senate, publicly taking sides on a highly charged issue in the wake of last month's mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

"Doing nothing about America's gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety," they wrote.

The letter, which was published by The New York Times, was signed by the chiefs of businesses including Levi Strauss, Uber, Twitter, Bloomberg and Airbnb.

Noticeably absent, however, were some of the biggest US financial and tech companies, including JPMorgan, Google and Facebook.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will only bring a gun bill to the floor if it has presidential backing, but Trump has given no clear preference.

Noting that 100 Americans are shot and killed every day, the CEOs called the situation a "public health crisis that demands urgent action."

They argued that gun violence is preventable and "there are steps Congress can, and must, take to prevent and reduce gun violence."

"That's why we urge the Senate to stand with the American public and take action on gun safety by passing a bill to require background checks on all gun sales and a strong Red Flag law that would allow courts to issue life-saving extreme risk protection orders," it said.

Such a bill has passed the House of Representatives but remains stalled in the Senate.

The gun control debate reignited after the massacre of 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas Aug. 3, followed a day later by the killings of nine more by a gunman in Dayton, Ohio.

The month closed with a shooting rampage in Odessa, Texas that left another seven people dead. — AFP