Waxman urges attention to mental health in gun debate

The recommendations come as Biden and his gun violence task force prepare a policy strategy for President Obama in the wake of a mass shooting Newtown, Conn. Biden has promised to deliver his recommendations on Tuesday.

In his letter, Waxman urged attention to gun violence as an issue of public health, citing studies that show a "three-fold greater risk of homicide and a five-fold greater risk of suicide for residents in homes with firearms."

"Unfortunately," Waxman continued, "these research initiatives have been stymied by congressional funding direction and riders that have effectively shut down public health agencies … from conducting or sponsoring certain kinds of gun-related research."

Waxman concluded by urging more funding and authority for public health agencies when it comes to gun issues, full implementation of the Mental Health Parity Act, and the closing of gun-safety loopholes.

He sent a similar letter to Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), who leads the House Democratic Caucus Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

Read the two letters here and here.