Nearly 100 US state legislators to discuss gun violence with VP Harris

Gun Rights

By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Kamala Harris will host 100 Democratic state legislators from 39 states at the White House on Wednesday, as the Biden administration searches for ways to curb the country’s growing gun deaths.

The Department of Justice will also announce two actions that offer states a framework to support safe storage and report stolen firearms.

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WHY IT MATTERS: President Joe Biden in September established a new office of gun violence prevention at the White House.

The office is overseen by Harris, who has struggled to win over many Democrats in her role as Biden’s No. 2, but in recent months has embraced a more combative role on issues such as abortion as Biden’s re-election campaign kicks into high gear.

The Biden campaign is hoping that anger at gun violence could help propel young people to vote and regard engaging them as critical to delivering the president another four-year term.

DETAILS: Harris will talk about setting up state offices of gun violence prevention, red flag laws, reinforcing responsible gun ownership, requiring safe storage of firearms, reporting lost and stolen firearms and supporting survivors.

BY THE NUMBERS: As of Dec. 6, the United States had 39 mass shootings in 2023, according to a database maintained by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University, which defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are killed, not including the shooter.

Gun violence has also been the No.1 cause of death for children in the United States since 2020 and it has by far the highest rate of gun deaths among rich countries.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of Dec. 12 over 40,000 people in the U.S. had died this year as a result of guns, including by suicide.

CONTEXT: Democrats largely favor stricter gun laws and expanded mental health services to reduce deaths. Republicans, with the support of the National Rifle Association, a gun rights group, largely oppose stricter laws, citing the right to bear arms established in the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Heather Timmons and Lisa Shumaker)

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