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GunTV shopping network for firearms to launch in US

A new 24-hour shopping channel for firearms has been slated to air in the US as early as January. The announcement has come on the heels of a mass shooting in California that killed 14 people.

Television viewers in the US will soon be able to buy firearms and ammunition from the comfort of their sofas. A new shopping network called GunTV is set to launch on January 20 and will be available to 34 million satellite television subscribers.

The channel, the first of its kind, promises "extraordinary access to purchasing the most diverse representation of firearms in the world."

"This 24-hour live shopping network brings to life a vast array of firearms and related consumer goods in a groundbreaking format that inextricably fuses the social responsibility message with the traditional shopping channel format," according to GunTV's promotional Web page.

An organization called the Social Responsibility Network is launching the channel, saying there is a need for "education, information and safety regarding firearms commerce in America."

Naturally, many safety questions concerning the gun sales have arisen. GunTV co-founder Valerie Castle told The Guardian newspaper that gun buyers will be required to fill out forms and undergo required background checks.

The guns and ammunition will not be delivered directly to consumers. Instead, the items will be shipped to a local firearms dealer who will carry out the background checks.

"I don't really know that it's going to put more guns on the streets," Castle was quoted as saying.

Questionable timing

The news of GunTV's launch comes directly on the heels of the latest US mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, where two attackers injured 21 people and killed 14. Two shooters used two semiautomatic assault rifles and semiautomatic handguns during the shootout at a holiday party on Wednesday.

Police believe that the firearms had been purchased legally, despite California's strict gun laws. One day after the mass shooting, Democrats in the Senate tried to force a vote to increase background checks on gun buyers. They were met with such intense opposition from the Republican side, that the measure never even made it to the floor.

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Couple die in gun battle after 14 killed

Efforts to pass stricter gun laws in the US are often met with firm opposition from gun owners mobilized by the National Rifle Association (NRA). Even after mass shootings, like the Sandy Hook school shooting in which 20 children died, gun control measures do not gain political ground.

Split opinions

The NRA has helped shape the rhetoric following mass shootings, saying: "The only way to protect people from a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Many Americans have listened to the NRA's warnings. The number of people with licenses to carry concealed weapons nearly doubled in recent years to an estimated 11.7 million in 2014 from 6.9 million in 2010, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The majority of Americans, however, support stricter background checks for gun purchases. A recent Gallup poll found that up to 55 percent of Americans side with increased gun control measures, up from 47 percent in 2014.

The latest attack in California brings the number of mass shootings in the US - defined as four or more people shot during one incident - up to 352 so far this year.

rs/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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