WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23) addressed the Las Vegas mass shooting when he held his weekly conference call with regional media on Tuesday.
The Sunday night rampage by Stephen Craig Paddock killed at least 59 people and injured 527, some from gunfire and some from a chaotic escape.
Reed, who represents Chautauqua County in Washington, said any legislation that comes forward as a result of the incident should focus on mental health and preventing terrorism, not restricting Second Amendment rights.
“If this gentleman had a mental health illness or was on the radar because of extremism because of domestic or foreign terrorism, we have to look at that situation because I think there are areas that we can agree upon to address that,” Reed said. “But to fundamentally attack our individual Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of the second amendment is something that I have not been supportive of in the past, nor do I believe targeting law abiding citizens is something that we should do as a result of a situation even as horrific as this.”
Congressman Reed also said that when incidents like this take place, the media should focus on the issue of mental health, rather than just gun control.
“Get into the issue of mental health and how we treat it in America. Get into the stigma and where it comes from, when we live in a state of denial to a large degree on the issue of mental health. Get into the reforms that are necessary to deliver medical care to those that are suffering from mental illness,” Reed said. “These are all short comings in the system that, if the media would help us highlight, and then highlight solutions and applaud efforts like Dr. Murphy’s effort to enact mental health legislation at the federal level that has now made this a higher priority than it has ever been in our history, I think that would do a lot into moving this issue into a realm of solutions, rather than to have the more political issues that we have seen.”
Reed is referring to Congressman Tim Murphy’s (R-Pennsylvania) legislation entitled “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act”- which was passed in 2016 and designed to provide additional funding and resources to assist those with mental health issues across the country.
However, critics of the bill have said it limits privacy for people with mental health problems, while also shifting the focus in the gun violence debate to mental health, although research indicates that people with psychiatric diagnoses are responsible for only 3-5 percent of gun violence.
Critics of Congressman Murphy’s bill as a solution to reducing gun violence and mass shootings say lawmakers in Washington should instead focus on stronger predictors of gun violence – which include access to guns, substance use, poverty, and a history of violence.
However, when it comes to addressing the issue of access to guns, including limiting the number an individual may own at any given time, he feels that is a violation of a constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
“So when you talk about taking away or freedom, I am very sensitive to that attack. What I want to talk about is protecting our freedom, but at the same time, where can we move the needle in a bigger and better way to try and prevent these types of incidents from happening,” Reed said.
Congressman Reed has received a total of $11,950 in campaign funding since taking office. He’s also received a “A” perfect rating from the organization. Despite this, Congressman Reed said he is not beholden to the group.