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February 25, 2013

State gun law panel slow to form

Two months after state House Speaker Robert DeLeo promised a task force to review state gun control laws and propose solutions for reducing gun violence in Massachusetts, the panel has yet to be formed or begin its work.

Organizing for Action, a nonprofit organized to support President Barack Obama’s agenda, plans to host a rally on Friday on the State House steps as part of a national day of action calling on Congress to adopt the president’s proposals, including universal background checks for gun purchases. Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and other elected officials plan to attend, according to the Action group.

But while efforts to address gun violence at the national level continue to simmer, momentum behind calls for updating state gun laws have slowed.

In a speech to House members during the first week of January, DeLeo put gun control firmly on the House’s agenda for the coming year, telling colleagues that he was “shaken” by the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

“I want to bring together members of our House and outside experts to study the dangerous intersection of guns and mental illness in schools and throughout society,” DeLeo said at the time, announcing the appointment of Northeastern University Associate Dean Jack McDevitt to lead the task force.

Over the ensuing weeks, however, DeLeo has yet to round out the membership of the gun panel while other states have acted to pass new laws and Vice President Joe Biden led a similar task force for the Obama administration and presented new gun control recommendations to Congress.

Seth Gitell, a spokesman for DeLeo, said the Speaker planned an announcement about the task force “very, very soon.”

“The invitations have gone out. A number of people have accepted and we’re waiting on others,” Gitell said.

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