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Menino heading to DC to push for tougher gun laws

WASHINGTON -- Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is headed to the nation’s capital next week to try and persuade a bitterly divided Congress to overhaul the background-check system for gun purchases.

Menino will join New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and more than 50 survivors of gun violence on Capitol Hill Tuesday at a series of events organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which Menino and Bloomberg co-chair, and by the Campaign to Fix Gun Checks.

Among expected participants are Pat Maisch, who survived the Tucson shooting rampage that severely injured Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and Omar Samaha, whose sister was killed in the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech.

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Together, the groups are pushing Congress to ensure people with records of mental illness and drug abuse are added to a national database of prohibited purchasers. They want legislators to crack down on federal, state and local authorities who do not submit those and other required records to the database.

“It’s time for common sense reforms to Fix Gun Checks and stem the tide of gun murders that leaves 34 Americans dead every day,” a statement on the Campaign to Fix Gun Checks website said.

Menino’s planned participation in the Capitol Hill events is included in an advance copy of his schedule obtained by the Globe.

He has long been an advocate of stricter gun-control laws and formed the coalition with Bloomberg in 2006 to make the case nationally. The coalition has now grown to include more than 500 mayors from 40 states.

The shooter at Virginia Tech was able to purchase a gun despite a court ruling that he was mentally ill and an imminent danger. Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 17 others in a shooting rampage on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Even though Congress passed a law after the Virginia Tech shooting to improve reporting of mental illness to the national background-check database, 10 states have not submitted mental health records and 18 others have submitted records on fewer than 100 people, according to the Campaign to Fix Gun Checks.

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Jared Lee Loughner, who shot Giffords and killed six others in a supermarket parking lot in Tucson in January, had passed a background check and bought the Glock he used in the attack, even though he had admitted to the US military that he was a habitual drug user and questions had been raised about his mental stability.


Donovan Slack can be reached at dslack@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @donovanslack.