U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said Congress should revive gun-control legislation in the wake of last weekend’s deadly shooting spree near the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Various legislation aimed at restricting magazine capacity, banning some “assault-style” guns, and expanding background checks failed to advance through Congress last year in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Blumenthal told “Face the Nation” guest host Major Garrett on Sunday that the latest shooting should make clear the need for new legislation. And he said one of the failed bills — the high-profile background check bill — could have helped prevent the latest assault.
Blumenthal suggested the legislation could be altered to put a greater emphasis on mental health in background checks. He said the legislation as it stood would have provided Santa Barbara authorities more room to intervene.
Authorities visited and talked with suspect Elliot Rodger last month after a family member had expressed concern about his behaviour. Rodger left behind a chilling “manifesto” and a YouTube video in which he told of his plans of “revenge” for women who had rejected his advances.
“The legislation that failed to pass — it got support from 55 senators — would have provided a mental health initiative with more resources, greater ability for the Santa Barbara police to intervene — to use the sheriff’s word — to have professionals trained in diagnosing and detecting this kind of derangement,” Blumenthal said.
“Obviously, not every kind of gun violence is going to be prevented by laws out of Washington. But at least we can make a start, and I am going to urge that we bring back those bills, maybe reconfigure them to center on mental health which is a point where we can agree that we need more resources to make the country healthier and to make sure that these kinds of horrific, insane, mad occurrences are stopped and the Congress will be complicit if we fail to act.”
The background-check bill garnered 55 votes in March 2013, needing 60 to advance. Gun-control proponents have unsuccessfully tried to restart a fierce debate that began after the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
Blumenthal also referenced a statement from Richard Martinez, the father of one of the California shooting’s victims, in which he blamed the NRA and “craven politicians” for his son’s death.
“That gut-wrenching, heartbreaking statement is a reminder of how we felt in the wake of Sandy Hook on December 14 a year and a half ago when it seemed like we were on the verge of potentially legislation that would stop the madness and end the insanity that has killed too many young people, thousands, tens of thousands since Sandy Hook,” Blumenthal said.
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