What your elected officials are doing to prevent gun violence
Many people in our viewing area have asked what elected officials in the Tennessee Valley are doing to prevent gun violence.
Channel 3 reached out to each of them Monday to find out. Here is what the one's who got back to us had to say.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee responded saying, "[There is] a need to be vigilant about mental health and signs of domestic terrorism/radicalization. Just as this year we put $40 million into school safety, we will continue evaluating policies that protect Tennesseans and also respect individual liberties."
Tennessee Congressman Chuck Fleischmann said, “I grieve alongside the communities affected by the unconscionable acts of violence this past weekend. There is no place in our society for white nationalism and we must act as one to root out this evil. In Congress, I have supported the Fix NICS Act, to address flaws in our existing background check system. The rights of law-abiding citizens should not be infringed upon or curtailed because of failures to enforce existing laws. While protecting the Second Amendment rights of Americans, we must come together to address issues of access to mental health resources and a toxic culture of violence in our society. When each party goes to their respective ideological corners, we fail to mend the divisions and prevent tragedy. I am ready and willing to have productive conversations regarding mental illness disorders and overcome these challenges as a nation.”
Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn responded saying, "We will work with the President to continue addressing this issue in a comprehensive manner by giving law enforcement the tools they need to reduce gun violence, while also respecting the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens. The issue of mental health will also require further examination. We should look into how to expand providing proper treatment and facilities for the severely mentally ill. Last year, Congress passed the Fix NICS Act, which banned the use of bump stocks and strengthened reporting requirements for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and the Department of Justice. There is much more work to be done."
Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson responded saying, "[I have] supported and will continue to work for commonsense legislation on firearms that keeps Americans safe without infringing upon our Second Amendment rights. [I support] instant background checks on all retail sales of guns to prevent convicted felons from obtaining them. [I have also] supported improved access to mental health – and, in the case of terrorism, [have] supported better information sharing among law enforcement agencies. Following the tragic Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, when devices known as “bump-stocks” enabled the weapons used to function like fully automatic weapons, which are heavily regulated under federal law, [I asked] the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to review regulations surrounding the sale of these “bump-stock” devices. In December 2018, the Department of Justice effectively prohibited the use of “bump-stocks” by clarifying federal regulations. [I am also] a cosponsor of Senator John Cornyn’s bipartisan legislation to fix the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), called the Fix NICS Act, to ensure federal and state authorities comply with existing law and accurately report required criminal history records to NICS. This measure was signed into law in March 2018. [I] will carefully review any proposals that come before the Senate."
A representative from Georgia Senator David Perdue's office said Perdue was traveling all day and wasn't able to comment by our deadline but did share some background saying, "Senator Perdue is a cosponsor of the bipartisan NCIS Denial Notification Act (S. 875). The bill would strengthen the background check system by notifying state law enforcement when a criminal prohibited from purchasing a gun attempts to do so and fails the federal background check. It would also require the Department of Justice to publish an annual report on federal prosecutions of background check denials to felons. This legislation will help state, local, and federal law enforcement work together to identify and prosecute dangerous individuals who attempt to purchase a firearm they are prohibited from acquiring due to their criminal history. Senator Perdue also cosponsored this legislation in the 115th Congress."
Georgia Representative Matt Barton said "Unfortunately these type of tragedy's have escalated in the last 10-15 years. I do not think it is coincidence these terrible events coincide with the closing of mental heath facilities and the increased reliance of drugs to treat illnesses that would be better treated with intense, hands on treatment in mental care facilities. The young man in the Ohio incident had allegedly exhibited behavior in the past that was very troubling. He was put back in a general school population after one such incident. They warned some of his intended victims in that case, but by law had to let him back in school. Just imagine what could have happened. We have to look at our mental health care in conjunction with the federal government to have any chance to stop these type of terrible events from happening. I think at the state level we can do a better job with mental illness."
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said, “Our nation cannot ignore these mass shootings. That is why last year I helped pass a new law to eliminate loopholes in the background check system for gun purchasers. Two years ago, I helped rewrite federal mental health laws to improve the quality and coordination of mental health care, focusing on early intervention. New laws I co-sponsored gave schools more funds to stop school violence and to meet the needs of students with mental health disorders. I am ready to do more, especially on background checks, to identify those who shouldn’t have guns. Today, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell asked that the health and education committee I chair take an immediate look to find additional bipartisan ways to fund states’ efforts to increase school safety and to help Americans with serious mental health problems. But, especially in a nation with a constitutional right to bear arms, new laws from Washington, D.C., alone won’t stop this violence – it will take a change in behavior. Every day our internet democracy displays millions of hateful thoughts. To change behavior, each of us has a responsibility to replace these hateful thoughts with statements that respect the dignity of every individual, regardless of their background.”
If we hear back from other elected officials, we will add their responses to this story.
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