After decades of mass shootings with no major federal movement toward greater gun control, Senator Edward J. Markey said Tuesday that the climate is finally ripe for change.

“We are at the dawn of a children’s crusade to have common sense gun legislation pass on the floor of the United States Congress and be signed by a president,” the Malden Democrat said less than a week after a gunman killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

“I don’t think these children are going to accept no for answer. I think we’ve reached a turning point,” he said at a Roxbury news conference, pointing to the many students who are now calling for action to prevent more mass shootings.


About 100 Stoneman Douglas students are set to march in Tallahassee this week to press Florida lawmakers to take action against gun violence. And many other young people are planning a broader march on Washington in March.

Markey, a federal legislator for more than 41 years, has held countless news conferences pressing for more federal action on guns without an accompanying legislative change. For example, he pressed for greater gun control efforts with colleagues in 1999, when, after the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, he said, “This battle is just about to heat up.”

But on Tuesday, the senator insisted that having kids as the advocates will make 2018 different.

“The children are the key. The children are putting the human face of innocence — who are being slaughtered because adults are not willing to take on the National Rifle Association,” he said.

Connecting gun control efforts to prevent mass shootings with those to reduce violence on city streets, several local students and advocates joined Markey at the event.

“There is no greater calling on us today than the urgency to sacrifice a moment that will stop the murder of our children and restore a sense of hope and purpose to our nation,” said Monalisa Smith, founder and president of nonprofit Mothers for Justice and Equality.


“My question is: What are we going to do about it as people of this country?” said Junelle Matthias, a 17-year-old junior at Boston’s Codman Academy Charter Public School. “Because every day we sit back and do nothing, a little child is killed.”

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