Connecticut Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday he will urge Congress to take up gun legislation that failed to pass following the Sandy Hook massacre.
“Obviously, not every kind of gun violence is going to be prevented by laws out of Washington,” he said. “But at least we can make a start and I am going to urge that we bring back those bills, maybe reconfigure them, centre 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.
Blumenthal said if the Second Amendment is not rolled back through legislation, Congress will be complicit in future shootings.
He said the legislation defeated last year would have given the police in California the resources needed to detect if accused mass shooter Elliot Rodger was suffering from mental illness. He said federal legislation would have provided for “professionals trained in diagnosing and detecting this kind of derangement.”
Prior to the shooting during a “welfare” visit by police, it was determined Rodger was “quiet and timid. . . polite and courteous,” according to Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.
“He was able to make a very convincing story that there was no problem, that he wasn’t going to hurt himself or anyone else, and he just didn’t meet the criteria for any further intervention at that point,” Brown said. “Obviously, we certainly wish that we could turn the clock back and change some things, but at the time the deputies interacted with him, he was able to convince them that he was okay.”
Senator Blumenthal did not explain how authorities will determine if a firearm owner or applicant is mentally ill and should be deprived of his or her Second Amendment.
In January, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a number of new regulations that would include entering health records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which gun dealers are required to use prior to selling firearms to customers. The proposed legislation conflicted with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, a patient privacy law.
Mental health officials said the regulations would discourage people with mental problems from seeking treatment due to the fear of being included in a government database.
“I think it’s a bad idea. It would really put a chill on people getting services. They find it very scary — the idea of a national database that the government will keep [on them],” said Daniel Fisher, who was treated for schizophrenia and is currently a mental health advocate.