Mass. Sens., Boston mayor urge tougher gun laws
BOSTON (AP) -- The state's top political leaders called on Congress Wednesday to pass stricter background checks for gun buyers.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined fellow Sen. Edward Markey, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and the families of gun violence victims at a rally at Faneuil Hall to press for tougher national gun laws.
Warren and others are hoping Congress will again take up a bill that would expand background checks to include gun shows and online sales. She said other sensible measures would include better mental health care and putting limits on high capacity magazines and assault weapons.
"If a mystery virus were claiming as many children as bullets, the nation would mount a massive effort to prevent it," Warren said.
"We have to put an end to gun violence," she said. "We owe this to our children."
Markey and others at the rally faulted the National Rifle Association for opposing what he said are even modest gun safety measures. Markey said Massachusetts has one of the lowest rates of gun deaths because it has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.
The Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts said after the rally that the officials "have long ignored the abject failure of gun laws that exist in the Commonweath." Jim Wallace, the group's executive director, said in a statement that violent crime has escalated in the state while the number of licensed gun owners has been reduced by delays in processing their applications, and restrictions that "fail to respect the civil rights of citizens."
Earlier this year in Washington, an expanded background check bill sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Patrick Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin failed to win the 60 votes needed to advance. That bill would have exempted sales between friends and family members from background checks.
Opponents of the bill said it went too far in curbing access to firearms by law-abiding gun buyers.
Congressman Michael Capuano said the key to successfully pushing for tougher gun laws is to stay in the fight.
"We're right, we know we are right, and we know America supports our position," he told those gathered for the rally.
The Boston event was organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Menino is co-chairman of the group with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.