Gun violence taking 'appalling toll' on US – UN chief

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (Reuters)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (Reuters)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the United States to take action to curb gun violence, saying it is taking an "appalling toll" on American society.

The UN chief said on Friday he was "deeply saddened" to learn of Thursday's mass shooting in Oregon which saw a heavily-armed 26-year-old opened fire at a community college. Ten people died, including the shooter.

"In the face of yet another tragedy of this kind, the secretary-general expresses his strong hope that the United States, through the robust democratic process that characterises it, will be able to take the necessary action to reduce the appalling toll in human life that gun violence is taking on American society," said a statement from Ban's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

There have been 142 school shootings in the United States over the past three years, according to data compiled by Mass Shooting Tracker.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama angrily renewed his call for a toughening of US gun laws in Congress, denouncing the fact that school shootings had somehow "become routine."

Asked if the United Nations could help bring about stronger arms control in the United States, Dujarric stressed that Washington should come up with its own ways to tackle the problem.

Ban, however, noted that Obama had "consistently demonstrated his commitment to address this scourge."