Sen. Ed Markey has been calling for stricter gun laws for decades. But this week, thanks to the actions of young people, he says he is actually feeling optimistic.
Boston High School student Junelle Matthias and activist mom Monalisa Smith were among those who joined him at his press conference in the city's Roxbury neighborhood, where Markey called on Congress to strengthen gun laws and to look at the recent spate of mass shootings through a different lens.
"It's time we treat gun violence like the public health emergency that it is," Markey said.
To make his point, Markey invited researchers from Harvard's Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Matthew Miller suspects much like the reduction in automobile fatalities following funded research, the number of mass shootings could also be reduced.
Dr. Michelle Williams, the dean of Harvard's Public Health School, says Australia proved change is possible following a 1997 mass shooting.
"They rallied around making new policies," Williams said, "and went from 13 massacres in a year to zero."
National Rifle Association member Jay Dwyer supports research, but says the real focus should be on mental illness, since almost every mass shooter, he says, has been on some sort of psychotropic drug.
Dwyer says men below the age of 25 should be denied a gun if they are taking medication for mental illness unless approves by a doctor.
"Somebody who is drunk driving, you don't ban the car, you arrest the drunk driver," Dwyer argued. "You take his license away."
Markey says these are two separate issues.
"Yes, we need more funding for mental health services, but we also need tighter gun control laws," he said.
The Boston chapter of Moms Demand Action says it usually gets a few dozen people to show up at the monthly meetings. Next month's meeting already has more than 600 signed up.