US Attorney General William Barr attending a ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC [File: Leah Millis/Reuters]

United States Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday announced a new effort to prevent mass shootings through court-ordered counselling and supervision of potentially violent individuals.

The effort, announced in a memo to federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials, follows dozens of deadly mass shootings in the US this year, including a massacre of 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and another just one day later in Dayton, Ohio, in which nine people were killed.

The FBI was given expanded powers after the September 11, 2001 attacks. But it has at times struggled to track home-grown threats and was criticised

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