Stabenow urges colleagues to support mental health amendment

Stabenow said she and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) would introduce the Excellence in Mental Health Act as an amendment to S. 649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act.

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The Senate gun reform bill would expand background checks on gun purchases, create new penalties on straw purchases and include new funding for school security.

The Stabenow and Blunt amendment would give communities more supports for better mental health treatment.

“Too many instances today we are seeing that there is not effective help to people in communities,” Stabenow said.

Stabenow cited personal experience with mental illness, saying that her father, who was bipolar, was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia when she was a child. 

“When I was growing up in middle school and high school my father had bipolar disease but at that time we didn’t know what it was,” Stabenow said. “[But] he received the medicine he needed and went on to lead a productive life, so I have seen what is possible.”

The first amendment being considered is a bipartisan deal on background checks from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), which could get a vote as early as Tuesday.

Republicans expressed concern that expanding background checks could create a federal registry of gun owners and make it harder for family members to transfer firearms.

Manchin and Toomey’s deal would expand background checks to cover all sales at gun shows and over the Internet. Those background checks would have to be accompanied by records proving to law enforcement officials they took place. It would exempt gun sales and transfers between friends and acquaintances, and explicitly ban the federal government from creating a national firearms registry.

The Senate bill doesn’t include an assault weapons ban or limits on magazine clip capacity — although Reid promised a vote on those provisions as an amendment.

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