Blumenthal: Revive background check bill

 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Calif.) said Sunday that lawmakers should revive a failed attempt to pass legislation that would require increased background checks for gun purchases after a mass shooting over the weekend near Santa Barbara, Calif. 

Democrats attempted to push for new gun control measures after an elementary school shooting in Blumenthal’s home state of Connecticut in December 2012, but the measure died in the spring of 2013 after it was unable to clear a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate. 

Blumenthal said during an appearance on CBS’s “Face The Nation” that the most recent shooting showed the gun legislation should be revived again. 

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“I really since hope that this … unimaginable, unspeakable tragedy will provide an impetus to bring back measures that would keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people who are severely troubled or deranged like this young man was,” he said. 

The latest shooting involved a 22-year-old student at the University of California, Santa Barbara campus who killed six people on Friday after posting a video manifesto to YouTube. 

Officials with the Santa Barbara County sheriff's department said they conducted a welfare check on the shooter, Elliot Rodger, at the request of a family member. They said they were unable to do more because he had not broken any laws, however.  

Blumenthal said the failed 2013 background check legislation may have made it easier for authorities to intervene when he purchased his weapons. 

“Obviously not every type of gun violence is going to be stopped by laws out of Washington, but at least we can make a start,” he said. “I’m going to urge that we bring back those bills, maybe reconfigure them to center on mental health, which is a point that we can agree. We need more resources to make the country healthier and to make sure that these kinds of horrific, insane, mad occurrences are stopped. The Congress will be complicit if we fail to act.”  

Sen. John Thune (S-S.D.), who was appearing on the show with Blumenthal, said he agreed with the Connecticut senator about the need for more mental health resources, but the GOP lawmaker stopped short of calling for a revival of the background check legislation. 

“This was a horrific act of violence that involved not only shooting, but stabbings,” Thune said. 

“When we get the specifics of the case, we do need to focus on … and ensure that we have policies in place that will allow people with mental health issues like these to be diagnosed and to be treated,” he continued. “I think that’s something on which there is agreement and that’s where we ought to be focusing our efforts.”  

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