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Elected officials decry gun violence, call on Congress to pass stricter laws

Kim Odom spoke of her son, Steven Odom, who was slain in 2007, while her grandson, Shyhelm Odom, held a commemorative sign. Several Massachusetts politicians attended the rally sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Kim Odom spoke of her son, Steven Odom, who was slain in 2007, while her grandson, Shyhelm Odom, held a commemorative sign. Several Massachusetts politicians attended the rally sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

An array of Massachusetts elected officials decried gun violence Wednesday and called on Congress to pass more stringent gun control laws, in particular to expand mandatory background checks for gun sales.

“We need to support common-sense background-check legislation,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston told a crowd at a rally outside Faneuil Hall.

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Menino was flanked by the state’s two senators, three of its congressmen, and more than a dozen other elected officials and the families of gun violence victims.

He said supporters needed to pressure members of Congress beyond those from Massachusetts, who have been at the forefront of pressing for expanded gun control laws.

For too long, Menino said, “we have waited for the next national gun tragedy, mourned the loss and comforted the families, and allowed Congress to move on.”

Two of the event’s most passionate speeches came from Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey.

Warren recalled driving past a sign on the Massachusetts Turnpike that shows a count of people who have died from gun violence and seeing the number tick up over the course of the day.

‘We have to put an end to gun violence. We owe this to our children.’

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“I’d think about those coffins,’’ she said. “I’d think about small coffins. We have to put an end to gun violence. We owe this to our children.”

Said Markey: “Let the word go forth from Boston here today: Enough is enough. We do not have to accept this epidemic of gun violence in this country. It is not preordained; it is preventable.”

Framing the event, but mentioned only in passing, was the recent failure of a bipartisan piece of legislation that would have expanded mandatory background checks for gun sales. The legislation — sponsored by Senator Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, and Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia — won the support of a majority of senators, including Warren, but failed to get the 60 votes it needed to move forward in April.

Markey, who has been a supporter of expanded gun control measures during his decades on Capitol Hill, decried the National Rifle Association’s opposition to measures like expanded background checks and bans on assault weapons.

Markey, a former congressman, won a special US Senate election in June. In that race, gun control emerged as one of the main issues of contention with his Republican opponent.

The rally was set up under the auspices of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization aimed at curbing gun violence and chaired by Menino and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York.

It was part of a bus tour, called “No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence,” that the organization is conducting across 25 states.

After the speaking program was finished, two rabbis began reading aloud the names of people who have been killed by gun violence since the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.
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