Mental illness and the gun control debate: Politicians and advocates weigh in

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Mental illness and the gun control debate: Politicians and advocates weigh in

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The question of “why?” is a common one after mass shootings. Monday morning, President Trump placed part of that blame on mental health.

“We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment but when necessary, involuntary confinement," said President Donald Trump. "Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger. Not the gun.”

Just this weekend, Mississippians connected to Moms Demand Action and EveryTown for Gun Safety were meeting in Washington to discuss ways to try and prevent more tragedies.

“Enough is enough," said Pastor Lorenzo Neal. "Not one more.”

Pastor Lorenzo Neal says it’s not that the President’s point of mental health is wrong.

“Mental illness is real," noted Neal who also serves as a survivor fellow with EveryTown for Gun Safety. "However there are a lot of people with mental illness that don’t have access to a weapon and do not use a weapon to carry out actions such as this. So, we can’t blame mental illness solely.”

But he’s hoping there are more comprehensive changes made that also target the concerns of access to guns.

“Restrict access for those with severe mental illness, those with felonies to have access to weapons, and also closing loopholes regarding background checks,” explained Neal.

Congressman Bennie Thompson commented on the President’s speech.

President Trump’s words today are meaningless. We know tragedy after tragedy his words have not led to solid action or any change in rhetoric. We know his vile and racist words have incited violence and attacks on Americans. Now dozens are dead and white supremacist terrorism, for years, is on the rise and is now our top domestic terrorism threat. America is and always will be a diverse country based on immigration. Repugnant anti-immigrant rhetoric and white nationalism simply do not belong here. Those that looked the other way for years - or enabled right-wing extremism for political advantage - are on notice. We must address this very real and present threat. The safety and security of our communities is at stake.”
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS)

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith condemned the acts of violence.

“I stand with every American in condemning the horrific violence we witnessed in Texas and Ohio, and I extend my deepest sympathies to the victims’ families. Now is not the time for political theater.”
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.)

Congressman Michael Guest tweeted the following statement in reaction to the shootings.

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