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Blackburn calls for addressing mental health issues after California shooting

Sen.-elect Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnDems vow swift action on gun reform next year Blackburn calls for addressing mental health issues after California shooting Dems to ramp up oversight of Trump tech regulators MORE (R-Tenn.) on Thursday emphasized protecting gun rights while calling to address mental health issues in the wake of a mass shooting in California that left at least 12 people dead.

Blackburn called for evaluating mental health policy during an appearance on Fox News when asked what the government could do to prevent mass shootings like the one in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

"What we do is say how do we make certain that we protect the Second Amendment and protect our citizens? We've always done that in this country," Blackburn said. "Mental health issues need to be addressed."

Blackburn, who defeated former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) in the Tennessee Senate race on Tuesday, mentioned legislation setting up a "red flag system" to address mental health issues among law enforcement.

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Red flag laws generally allow family members or law enforcement to seek a court order to temporarily restrict or remove a person's ability to have a gun if they appear to be a danger to themselves or others.

"A couple of weeks ago I was sitting down with some of our law enforcement and we talked about some of these issues," Blackburn said Thursday on Fox.

"How, as juveniles, some individuals have issues and then that needs to become transparent when they go away or they're in school," she said. "And there needs to be a way for them to get the help they need."

"No one wants an individual who is a danger to themselves or others to have a firearm," Blackburn said. "And what you do want is to make certain that they are receiving the help [they need]."

The suspect in the overnight shooting at a bar in California was identified Thursday as Ian David Long, 28, a former Marine who had multiple contacts with law enforcement, The Associated Press reported

Officials said they believe the suspected shooter took his own life.

A local sheriff's deputy was among the 12 people killed in the shooting.

"For these parents, for the victims, my heart, my thoughts, my prayers are with each and everyone of them and with all of these that have been effected," Blackburn told Fox News, calling the shooting "heartbreaking."

The gunman reportedly used a Glock .45-caliber handgun he legally purchased in California, but with an extended magazine, which is illegal in the state.

Authorities say the gunman had "minor" run ins with authorities prior to the shooting, such as traffic accidents.

In April, deputies were called to the suspect's house for a disturbance call, according to authorities.

“They went to the house, they talked to him," the local sheriff told The Washington Post. “He was somewhat irate, acting a little irrationally. They called out our crisis intervention team, our mental health specialist, who met with him, talked to him and cleared him.”