U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) issued the following statement in response to President Barack Obama’s speech today calling for stricter gun control policies:
“Like all Americans, I was shocked by the incredible tragedy in Newtown, and I’m committed to finding ways to prevent these senseless acts of violence. Unfortunately, President Obama is once again calling for gun control policies that restrict law-abiding Americans’ Second Amendment rights and fail to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook.
“I won’t support any proposals that infringe on Americans’ constitutional rights or ultimately prevent two neighbors from trading shotguns. Instead, I’m focusing my efforts on improving mental health policies to ensure we’re spending federal dollars more wisely when it comes to identifying, treating, and caring for people who are mentally ill.”
Senator Blunt has co-sponsored a number of mental health bills in the Senate, including:
• Senator Blunt joined U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) in introducing the “Excellence in Mental Health Act,” a bipartisan bill intended to address our nation’s fragmented mental health system by offering current Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) a chance to obtain the Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Center (FQCBHC) designation. The legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (Fla.), Susan Collins (Maine), Jack Reed (R.I.), and Barbara Boxer (Calif.).
• Senator Blunt is a co-sponsor of the “Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013,” which was introduced by U.S. Senators Mark Begich (Alaska) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and cosponsored by six of their colleagues. The bill authorizes the launch of a demonstration program to support mental health first aid trainings nationwide in order to help individuals to identify, understand, and respond to the signs of mental illnesses and addiction disorders.
• Senator Blunt is also a co-sponsor of the “Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act,” which was introduced by U.S. Senators Al Franken (Minn.) and Mike Johanns (Neb.) and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 14 of their colleagues in the Senate and 10 members in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill will help make communities safer by improving access to mental health services for people in the criminal justice system who need treatment. The bill also focuses on giving law enforcement officers the tools they need to identify and respond to mental health issues, and includes a 5-year reauthorization of the “Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act” (MIOTCRA), continuing support for mental health courts, and crisis intervention teams.