A wide array of Massachusetts elected officials today decried gun violence and called on Congress to pass more stringent gun control laws, in particular to expand mandatory background checks for gun sales.
“We need to support common-sense background checks,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino at the rally outside Faneuil Hall.
Menino was flanked by the state’s two senators, three congressmen, and more than a dozen other elected officals and families of gun violence victims.
He made the case that supporters needed to pressure members of Congress beyond Massachusetts, which has been at the forefront of pressing for expanded gun control laws.
For too long, Menino said, “we have waited for the next national gun tragedy, mourned the loss and comforted the families and allowed Congress to move on.”
Two of the most passionate speeches were made by the Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey.
Warren recalled driving past a sign on the Massachusetts Turnpike that shows a count of people who have died from gun violence and seeing the number tick up over the course of the day.
“I’d think about those coffins. I’d think about small coffins,” she said.
“We have to put an end to gun violence,” Warren said. “We owe this to our children.”
“Let the word go forth from Boston here today: Enough is enough.” Markey said. “We do not have to accept this epidemic of gun violence in this country: It is not preordained, it is preventable.”
Framing the event — but mentioned only glancingly — was the recent failure of a bipartisan piece of legislation that would have expanded mandatory background checks for gun sales. The legislation, sponsored by Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, won the support of a majority of senators, including Warren, but failed to get the 60 votes it needed to move forward in April.
Markey, who has been a supporter of expanded gun control measures during his decades on Capitol Hill, today knocked the National Rifle Association decrying its opposition to measures like expanded background checks and bans on assault weapons.
A former congressman, Markey won a special US Senate election in June. In that race, gun control emerged as one of the main issues of contention with his Republican opponent.
Today’s rally was set up under the auspices of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization aimed at curbing gun violence cochaired by Menino and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It was part of a bus tour, slated “No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence,” that the organization is conducting across 25 states.
After the speaking program was finished, two rabbis began reading aloud the names of people who have been killed by gun violence since the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.