National News

UN rights boss backs tighter US gun limits

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has lashed out at the US gun lobby for suggesting that firearms create security.

The United States must start honouring its duty to protect citizens by tightening its gun control measures, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has demanded, responding to the latest mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.

US leaders must stop the "horrifyingly commonplace but preventable violent attacks that are the direct result of insufficient gun control," the UN high commissioner for human rights said in Geneva on Tuesday.

The Jordanian UN diplomat lashed out at the US gun lobby for suggesting that firearms create security.

"Society - in particular its most vulnerable communities and minorities who are already facing widespread prejudice - pay a high price for the failure to stand up to the lobbyists and take the necessary measures to protect people from gun violence," Zeid said.

The Orlando attacker, Omar Mateen, used an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun when he shot 49 people dead at a gay night club on Sunday.

Zeid questioned whether there was any justification for letting people buy assault weapons, and he criticised that people in the US have been able to buy firearms despite prior histories of crime, domestic violence, drug use, mental illness or contact with domestic or foreign extremists.

More than 6000 people have died from gun violence so far this year in the US and more than 12,300 have been injured, according to the non-governmental group Gun Violence Archive.

Guns do not just endanger lives, but are frequently used in crimes against women and children, including sexual attacks, abductions and domestic violence, according to a recent global UN report on gun violence.

Mateen, who was killed by police on Sunday, appeared to have been self-radicalised from extremist Islamist material online, US President Barack Obama said on Monday.

Zeid's spokesman Rupert Colville said it was wrong to make gun violence a Muslim problem, as perpetrators of mass shootings in the US have come from a variety of backgrounds.

"The problem is the guns," Colville told reporters.

© DPA 2016

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