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MetroWest Daily News Op-Ed: Markey: Gun violence is preventable, not preordained

Congress has failed the American people on gun violence. Despite shootings in Lafayette, Chattanooga, Charleston, Newtown, Aurora and too many other cities across the country, Congress hasn’t passed any legislation to prevent future tragedies.

In Boston, Everett and Cambridge, five people shot to death overnight last Wednesday evening. Last month, a young innocent mother of three gets caught in the crossfire in Dorchester and loses her life. A record high shootings in Worcester in 2014.

Every member of Congress has received the letters and phone calls from concerned constituents: Not one more mass shooting. Not one more child shot. Not one more innocent life cut short prematurely by gun violence.

With each of these preventable tragedies, I ask myself: how many more gun-related deaths do we need to suffer before there is enough political will in Congress to ensure there is not one more.

Each year, more than 100,000 Americans are killed or injured by the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. During the first 204 days of 2015, one group reports there have been 204 mass shootings—one every single day. Sadly, most daily gun violence incidents are not covered by the media. But every community across the country has felt the toll. Our most vulnerable population, our children, suffer the most. In less than three years since the Sandy Hook shooting, there have been more than 125 school shootings. It doesn’t need to be this way.

But special interests like the National Rifle Association (NRA) don’t want Americans to understand this public health epidemic. Their stranglehold on some members of Congress means we are not researching the causes and strategies that would help effectively prevent gun violence. That’s why last month, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y) and I introduced legislation to dedicate $10 million in funding each year for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct research on firearms safety and gun violence prevention. When we introduced the legislation last year, the NRA called it “unethical”. What’s actually unethical is the NRA’s efforts to block this life-saving research.

We in Massachusetts know that commonsense gun control measures save lives. There are fewer deaths by guns in states with stronger gun control laws. Banning assault weapons and getting rid of high capacity magazines are important first steps. During the Clinton administration, I was successful in leading the effort that stopped more than 500,000 semiautomatic assault weapons from coming into our country from China. In the wake of these recent mass shootings, we need legislation that gets weapons meant for war off our streets.