KANSAS CITY — A crowd of at least 200 people gathered in Kansas City, Missouri, this past week to hear a congressman, the mayor and other leaders lament gun violence, a topic that was especially troubling in the wake of attacks in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

The leaders urged residents to pressure politicians to pass gun control measures, The Kansas City Star reported.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II told the crowd Wednesday at Metropolitan Community College that as painful as the weekend attacks that killed 31 people were, he knows "it's going to happen again." Cleaver said mass shootings will continue "until there is a revolution in the way we do politics in our country."

Kansas City is dealing with its own gun violence. The city had recorded 87 homicides through Thursday, nine more than at the same time in 2018. Police Chief Rick Smith says 309 people have been shot in Kansas City since January.

Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker noted that many killings go unsolved.

"We are harmed here," Peters Baker said. "Our kids who live in particular neighborhoods are harmed by the countless acts of violence that happen all around them, and they too rarely see any justice for it."

Cleaver said most Americans support background checks. Bills strengthening background check requirements passed the House but are sitting in the U.S. Senate. The White House, meanwhile, has threatened to veto the two bills Cleaver is backing.

Mayor Quinton Lucas, a Democrat, called the gun violence a "mass genocide" and a "devaluing in lives, particularly black lives." He wondered why society has made so little progress in addressing shootings.

"So why is it that we continue to look at the same issues, the same tragedy, the same carnage with guns in our community every day?" Lucas said. "Why is it that every year now in Kansas City we're talking about setting or matching old homicide records?"

Cleaver said in a news conference that he hopes the engagement with citizens will help put pressure on Congress to act on gun control.

In a statement Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Senate Republicans were "prepared to do our part." He said he spoke with chairs of three Senate committees to work on legislation.

"Only serious, bipartisan, bicameral efforts will enable us to continue this important work and produce further legislation that can pass the Senate, pass the House, and earn the president's signature," McConnell said. "Partisan theatrics and campaign-trail rhetoric will only take us farther away from the progress all Americans deserve."

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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