WASHINGTON (AFP) - Relatives of victims of mass shootings in the United States urged fellow citizens Tuesday to fire a volley of postcards at politicians to demand universal background checks for gun buyers.
Everytown for Gun Safety said more than 600,000 people have already signed up to send blue "Not One More" cards to state governors as well as senators and congressmen in Washington, many of whom face re-election in November.
The campaign follows a rash of highly publicized shootings in recent weeks in the United States, which in 2010 saw 31,672 gun-related deaths, of which 61.2 percent were suicides and 35 per cent homicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
"The American Dream in this country does not include the senseless murder of men, women and children," said Dave Hoover, whose nephew Alexander Boik was among 12 killed by a gunman in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in July 2012.
"My son Chris has been dead for 26 days and there's a hole in my heart that nothing can fill," added Richard Martinez, referring to the May 23 shooting spree near the University of California in Santa Barbara that left seven dead, at an emotional press conference in Washington.
The elementary school massacre of 20 young children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012 stirred a national debate about relatively lax gun laws in the United States.
But a bipartisan attempt, post-Newtown, to introduce coast-to-coast background checks for all gun buyers collapsed in the Senate amid stiff opposition, notably from the National Rifle Association (NRA).
"Gun violence in our nation is caused by craven and irresponsible politicians and the corporate gun lobby that buys their votes," said Sandy Phillips, mother of Jessica Ghawi, another Aurora fatality, at a Washington press conference.
Everytown for Gun Safety (www.everytown.org) calls itself "the largest gun violence prevention organization" in the United States.
It includes Mayors Against Illegal Guns, co-founded by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken advocate for tougher gun laws.