News and Press

MassLive: Sen. Ed Markey calls for stronger gun control after Orlando shooting

BOSTON — U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, on Friday voiced strong support for Democratic-sponsored bills expanding U.S. gun control laws.

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a variety of gun-related measures Monday, a little over a week after a mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub. While none of the measures are expected to pass, Markey said the votes are a way “to continue to apply the pressure of the American people to the Republican-led House and Senate” and to “break the vise-like control” that the National Rifle Association has on Congress.

Early Sunday morning, Omar Mateen murdered 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. Mateen purchased his gun, an AR-15 assault rifle, legally. The FBI had investigated Mateen in 2013 and 2014 as having potential terrorist ties.

The attack has prompted renewed calls for more gun control. On Wednesday night, Senate Democrats conducted a 15-hour filibuster to force a vote on gun control measures.

Senate Republicans agreed to hold votes on dueling gun-related measures, although none are expected to pass.

Democrats want universal background checks, in which checks are required for sales conducted over the internet and at gun shows. Democrats have also been pushing for measures to forbid anyone on the federal government’s terrorist watch list from buying a gun. Republicans are pushing a measure to add mental health considerations to background checks, Politico reported.

Markey voiced support for banning gun sales to anyone under suspicion of terrorism by the FBI. “If you cannot fly, you should not be able to buy an assault weapon, or any weapon in the United States,” Markey said.

Opponents of the bill say law-abiding Americans have ended up on the watch list because they are, for example, family members or acquaintances of a terrorist. There are also concerns that this would impede an investigation by making a suspected terrorist aware of it.

Markey said the presumption should be that a person on the terrorist watch list should not be allowed to buy a gun. “If you can prove you don’t deserve to be on that list and provide evidence, you’ll be removed,” Markey said.

Markey also argued for universal background checks. He said eventually, Congress should reinstate a ban on all assault weapons. The U.S. had a ban on domestic assault weapons until 2004, when it expired. “If someone in America needs an assault weapon to kill a deer, they should probably be a fisherman,” Markey said.

Markey, joined by several gun control advocates, held a press conference to call for increased gun control at Fenway Health, a Boston community health center that specializes in health care for gay and lesbian individuals.