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Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins joined United States Congresswoman Katherine Clark and a gathering of elected officials from across Massachusetts, members of law enforcement, and activists to demand that members of Congress be allowed to debate and vote on pending legislation designed to reduce gun violence.

Before introducing Congresswoman Clark amidst a sea of signs and supporters, Sheriff Tompkins delivered an impassioned address calling for federal laws to echo Massachusetts gun safety laws.

“Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we have some of the strictest gun laws anywhere in the nation,” said Sheriff Tompkins. “But, part of the problem that we face is the import of guns across our borders from states that have significantly fewer restrictions than ours.”

“Sitting between neighboring states with lax gun laws is kind of like sitting on a rock in the middle of the ocean during a rising tide and praying you don’t get wet,” Sheriff Tompkins continued. “It doesn’t matter how high up on the rock you try to sit, eventually, you’re under water. It makes no sense.”

Continuing the efforts to force a debate on gun safety legislation that she began weeks earlier when she and several of her colleagues – including legendary civil rights activist Congressman John Lewis – staged an historic sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Clark spoke emphatically about the purpose of the event.

“We are America,” said Congresswoman Clark. “We are Massachusetts. We sit in the cradle of innovation. We know that we can balance civil liberties, our rights under the Constitution, with common sense measures that protect our families and our children…We are not going to allow these routine massacres to become some sort of grisly normal.”

Almost prophetically, near the conclusion of the event, Congresswoman Clark revealed that the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives had relented and is set to allow a vote on a piece of legislation that would prevent those on terrorism watch lists from being able to purchase guns. There is no word yet about a possible vote on the provision that calls for expanded background checks.

Others who spoke at the rally included Boston Mayor Marty Walsh; Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo; MA Senate President Stanley Rosenberg; MA Attorney General Maura Healey; and Congressman Joseph Kennedy, III.

Also in attendance were: Boston Police Superintendent William Evans; Mayor of Cambridge Denise Simmons; State Senators William Brownsberger, Sal DiDomenico, Linda Dorcena Forry, Thomas McGee, Ken Donnelly, Michael Brady, and Joe Boncore; State Representatives Liz Malia, Dan Cullinane, Evandro Carvahlo, Dan Ryan, and Gloria Fox; Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley; New Bedford City Councilor Dana Rebeiro, Stop Handgun Violence founder John Rosenthal, and many others.