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Senate reflects on Boston tragedy, followed by Newtown and Va. Tech, before gun debate

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The Senate opened its session on Tuesday with reflections on the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, moments before it began debate on gun-control legislation that evoked the tragedies at Newtown, Conn., in December and Virginia Tech in 2007.

"Americans are still reeling from the senseless violence at the Boston Marathon yesterday," Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said from the floor. "Our nation is united in its sympathy for the victims of the attack and their families. Adding to the horror of the tragedy are the questions about who did this and why."

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said the "thoughts of every American" are with the people of Boston, after a pair of explosions before 3 p.m. on Monday killed three and injured about 150 people near the finish line of the iconic marathon.

"Many who were looking forward to celebrating the achievement of a loved one yesterday woke today to the grim reality of facing the rest of their lives with a disfiguring injury," Mr. McConnell said. "For them, yesterday's attacks were the beginning of a long, difficult journey. Three others who lined up to encourage others, including an 8-year-old boy who was there to cheer on his dad at the finish line, lost their lives in the blast."

The senator was referring to young Martin Richard, of Dorchester, Mass., whose mother and sister were seriously injured from the shrapnel-loaded explosions.

Senators from Virginia followed the remarks by remembering the sixth anniversary of a another tragedy — the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, in which a lone gunman killed 32 people.

Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat, referenced the incident and the more recent school shooting in Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adults were killed, in making his case for stricter gun laws.

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