Policy: Law

Mental health must be priority in wake of California shooting, lawmakers say

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A pair of lawmakers said Congress needs to focus on legislation to improve mental health care in the wake of a deadly shooting Friday in Isla Vista, Calif.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said that while laws cannot prevent all gun violence, some of the measures in legislation that failed to clear the Senate last year would have provided mental health provisions that could have made a difference in the California incident, which left seven dead and 13 wounded.

"I am going to urge that we bring back those bills, maybe reconfigure them to center 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. And the Congress will be complicit if we fail to act," he said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

The Isla Vista shooter was identified as 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, a Santa Barbara City College student who had posted disturbing videos to YouTube, including one a day before the shooting that said he intended to kill women -- a response to his romantic shortcomings.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said he agreed with Blumenthal that mental health needs to be more of a priority in the gun violence debate.

"We do need to focus on, and agree with Richard, and ensure that we have policies in place that allow people with mental health issues like these to be diagnosed and to be treated. I think that's something on which there is agreement, and that's where we ought to be focusing our efforts," he said on "Face the Nation."

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