Markey in DC, moms in Mass. push anti-gun violence efforts

Another year, another mounting tally of mass shootings, and US Sen. Ed Markey was once again standing outside the Capitol arguing for funding to study gun violence.  

In 1996, a rider in a federal spending bill backed by the National Rifle Association blocked federally funded research that would “advocate or promote gun control,” which Markey said amounted to “deadly self-imposed ignorance.” 

Markey has been dogged on the issue of gun data collection, notching a victory in 2020 when Congress clarified that the rider, known as the Dickey Amendment, should not be read as a ban on researching gun violence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received about $100 million for research since 2020, but an annual battle for funding now marks every budget season. 

“We shouldn’t have to wage an appropriations battle every year,” Markey said at a press conference Wednesday, just two days after three students and three adults were shot and killed at a Nashville church-based elementary school. “In order to most effectively respond to our nation’s gun violence epidemic and fill the data gaps caused by decades of inaction, we must authorize, increase, and regularize gun violence prevention research funding.”

The research funding is “not a panacea, but it is a piece of the puzzle that for 20 years was barred,” Markey said, “because knowledge is power and for too long the NRA and their acolytes in the United States House and Senate wanted to take the power away from the people.”

Researchers are still trying to make up for the lost time.

Only three months into 2023, and there have already been 131 mass shooting incidents across the country, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks gun violence in the US. In Massachusetts, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, there have been no mass shootings this year, but already more than 60 incidents of gun violence, according to the nonprofit. 

While Markey stood on the grass patch known as the Senate Swamp, the State House back in Massachusetts was hosting its yearly reminder of another horrific shooting. 

Volunteers at the annual lobbying day of Massachusetts Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action gathered in the Gardner auditorium at the State House, a sea of red shirts and miserable timing. It was the 10th annual gathering of the Everytown for Gun Safety network, formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Massachusetts legislators are working through an omnibus gun safety bill, another step in tightening gun laws after a US Supreme Court ruling last year scrambled the state’s concealed carry gun licensing systems.

Bills before the Legislature target unregistered homemade firearms known as “ghost guns,” gun storage laws, and gun licensing rules. They also strengthen and fund “red flag” laws that would let judges remove firearms from people who may pose a danger to themselves or others.

The Gun Owners’ Action League told NBC affiliate WWLP that “it is crime, mental health, or the rare accidents that occur, it is the human element that we should be focusing on. Until society recognizes that, things will continue to get worse in this state.”

On the state as on the federal level, better data is a key priority. Advocates are backing a bill filed by Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem and Rep. Marjorie Decker that would expand gun violence data reporting requirements and quantify the data it has already been collecting over the years.

“Collecting data and not doing anything with it helps nobody and does nothing,” Rina Schneur, legislative leader for Moms Demand Action, said at the gathering. “So we need to make sure we get inside where these crime firearms are coming from, especially with the increasing threat of firearm trafficking from other states.” 




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New Census data show which Massachusetts counties are losing population, a trend that is spurring debate about tax policies on Beacon Hill. (Eagle-Tribune)


Relentless municipal staff turnover, a new financial software system, lack of training and employees pulling double duty all led to a bleak financial picture in Wellfleet. (Cape Cod Times)


The Food and Drug Administration approves the overdose-reversing drug Narcan for over-the-counter sales. (NPR)


Play ball! (But don’t take too long on the mound between pitches, or go deploy an infield shift on serious pull hitters.) It’s opening day for Major League Baseball and a number of new rules are going into effect as part of the effort to juice up interest in the game. (Washington Post


A group of leading scientists and tech executives is calling for a six-month “pause” in the development of artificial intelligence technologies in order to take stock of their benefits and risks and develop “shared safety protocols” for them. (Boston Globe


The Swampscott Education Association takes a vote of no confidence in a school administrator. (Salem News)

The state renewed the charter of the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, which has been embroiled in several controversies in recent years regarding race and culture issues. (Boston Globe


James Neider, who earned $275,000 a year as the MBTA’s chief of capital improvement projects, but often worked remotely from out of state, was terminated last Friday. (Boston Globe)


Sewage in Massachusetts and other states is often transformed into fertilizer, which scientists are discovering contains PFAS, or forever chemicals. Those chemicals are now turning up in food grown on the fertilized land. (WBUR)


The owner of two Boston pizza shops who is already being held without bail on forced labor charges was indicted on a slew of additional federal charges. (Boston Globe

A Charlton police paid a $10,000 fine for a conflict of interest violation, according to the state Ethics Commission, after using police resources to locate a person with whom he had a private relationship. (Worcester Telegram)


Globe columnist Joan Vennochi expresses misgivings over how she characterized activist Mel King, who died this week at age 94, in a profile she wrote during his 1983 run for mayor of Boston. 

The Texas Observer reversed course and now intends to continue publishing after a crowdsourcing appeal generated $300,000. (Texas Tribune)