UN urges the US to adopt "robust" gun control in wake of Orlando attack

The human rights chief has hit out at "irresponsible" pro-gun propaganda

US, gun control, Orlando, United Nations, Human Rights Commissioner, pro-gun propaganda,

A crowd member holds up a sign as audience members applaud during a speech at a vigil downtown for those killed in a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida | Image: David Goldman / AP/Press Association Images

The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein has urge the US to adopt "robust gun control measures", following the Orlando terror attack that has left 49 people dead.

"It is hard to find a rational justification that explains the ease with which people can buy firearms, including assault rifles, in spite of prior criminal backgrounds, drug use, histories of domestic violence and mental illness, or direct contact with extremists - both domestic and foreign," Commissioner Zeid said.

"How many more mass killings of school-children, of co-workers, of African-American churchgoers - how many more individual shootings of talented musicians like Christina Grimmie, or politicians like Gabrielle Giffords, will it take before the United States adopts robust gun regulation?."

"Why should any civilian anywhere be able to acquire an assault rifle or other high-powered weapons designed to kill lots of people?," the UN human rights chief added in a Facebook post.

"Irresponsible pro-gun propaganda suggests that firearms make society safer, when all evidence points to the contrary."

"The ready availability of guns leaves little space between murderous impulses and actions that result in death."

"The journey between hate-filled beliefs and violent hate crimes is accelerated. 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 citizens from gun violence."

"That is the least that is owed to the relatives" - Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein | Image: OHCHR

"Devastating impact" of gun violence

A new UN human rights report on the civilian acquisition, possession and use of firearms highlights the "devastating impact" of gun violence on a host of human rights, including the rights to life, security, education, health, an adequate standard of living and participation in cultural life.

UN and regional human rights experts have long recommended that firearm control measures must include adequate background check systems, the periodic review of licenses, clear gun removal policies when intervening in domestic violence cases, mandatory training, and the criminalsation of illegal sale of firearms, among others.

Zeid added that it was "particularly reprehensible - indeed dangerous - that this terrible event is already being utilized to promote homophobic and Islamophobic sentiments."

"I urge everyone in the United States to rally around the common cause of ensuring that the human rights, and consequentially the security, of all are strengthened in the aftermath of this horrendous incident."

"That is the least that is owed to the relatives of all those children, women and men whose lives have been snatched from them by gunmen from a wide variety of backgrounds in the Orlando nightclub, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, at the Methodist Church in downtown Charleston, and at so many other homes, schools, colleges and other venues across the United States."