Dems say GOP focus on mental health is redirection from gun control
By FLONAD News
BY PETER SULLIVAN.
The Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead has reopened a debate about whether a focus on mental health is the answer to gun violence.
Both President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) pointed to mental health reforms as a solution following the shooting.
“We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools, and tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” Trump said in his first public comments about the latest mass shooting in the United States.
Democrats accused the GOP of misdirecting the national conversation, arguing that while mental health might be part of the solution, the focus must be on gun control.
“We should fix our mental health system, but we can’t let the gun lobby get away with suggesting that mental health is the problem,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in a statement.
“Improving mental health treatment will help a lot of people and it’s the right thing to do. But the U.S. has the highest rates of gun deaths – not because Americans have higher rates of mental illness than the rest of the world, but because it’s so easy for people to get their hands on deadly weapons.”
Ryan pointed to a 2016 mental health measure passed by Congress as one way in which Republicans have responded to mass shootings.
“Look, we passed mental health legislation two years ago because of the underlying mental health problems that were behind these shootings,” Ryan told reporters on Thursday.
But that law does not focus on the issue of guns and mental health, and would instead create new grant programs and install an assistant secretary for mental health.
Now that the bill has been signed into law, Ryan says it needs to be implemented.
“That legislation is now just taking place,” he said this week. “That legislation is now being implemented.”
Democrats say that bill will do little to reduce the epidemic of mass shooting, and that tougher action is needed on gun control.
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