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Mass. legislators support stricter gun control laws

Amid the national debate on gun control, Massachusetts’s representatives in Washington D.C. have come out in support of U.S.

President Barack Obama’s proposed gun control package. The laws include mandatory background checks for all gun owners, a stronger ban on assault weapons and an improvement in mental health care, among other provisions, according to the White House website.

The bills have yet to be voted on by the House or the Senate. U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, one of the Democrats vying for John Kerry’s vacated senate seat in a special election set for July, said he fully supports the new laws introduced by the president last month.

“In terms of the President’s current proposals, Ed Markey supports them whole-heartedly,” said Markey’s spokesman, Eben Burnham-Snyder.

“[He] has been calling on Republicans in Congress to hold the vote on the entire package, so that the people who represent Americans who want guns off the street can vote one way or the other on the President’s package.”

Earlier this week, Markey met with the group Stop Handgun Violence to promote his position on stronger gun laws, Burnham-Snyder said.

“He has been working with groups in Massachusetts as well, to try and push for Congress to pass these laws,” Burnham-Snyder said.  “Even though Massachusetts has robust gun control laws, you have the flood of out-of-state weapons coming in and resulting in violent crimes here in Massachusetts.”

Markey believes Obama’s plan is needed to federally ensure dangerous weapons don’t cross borders, Burnham-Snyder said.

Markey has been working at the federal level since 1994 to promote gun safety.  In 1994, Markey supported the first assault weapon ban that was passed by President Bill Clinton, Burnham-Snyder said.

“Obviously this is something he has worked on for years,” Burnham-Snyder said. “The impact of gun violence in communities in

Massachusetts and communities nation wide hasn’t gone away, it’s only gotten worse, especially over the years since the assault weapons ban has expired.”

Rep. Michael Capuano, who represents the seventh district of Massachusetts, is also in full support of Obama’s proposed gun control package, according to a statement from the congressman.

“We cannot prevent every act of gun violence, but there are certainly many steps that can be taken to improve safety,” Capuano said in an email statement.  “Congress should extend the assault weapons ban, close gun show loopholes, ban the sale of large-capacity magazines and restrict sales at gun shows.”

Mass. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who began serving the Commonwealth in Washington this January, has also pledged to support the gun control legislation that has been proposed.

“Senator Warren has co-sponsored legislation to ban assault weapons, to prohibit the sale or possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines, and to support mental health treatment programs,” said Matt Cournoyer, Warren’s press assistant in an email statement. “She will also support legislation to strengthen background checks.”

After Obama announced his package of gun control laws in January, newly elected Rep. Joe Kennedy III also released a statement in support of the President.

“Over the past decade there have been too many lives lost, families broken and communities shattered by our inability to reasonably restrict access to dangerous weapons,” Kennedy said in the statement from Jan. 16.  “I applaud our President and [Mass. Gov. Deval] Patrick for proposing plans to reduce gun violence that are painfully overdue in this country.”

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