Navy Yard Case May Intensify Mental Health Focus In Gun Debate


One aspect of gun control on which many Democrats, Republicans and even the National Rifle Association agree is the need to give mental health providers better resources to treat dangerous people and prevent them from buying weapons. The New York Times says the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard by a man who showed telltale signs of psychosis is helping a push to move ahead with bipartisan mental health policy changes. The issue is whether to spend more money on treating and preventing mental illness.

Proponents see an opening even if it remains unclear whether any changes under consideration could have headed off the latest attack, in which Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist, bought the shotgun he used in Virginia. “Given the clear connection between recent mass shootings and mental illness, the Senate should not delay bipartisan legislation that would help address this issue,” Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mark Begich (D-AK), said yesterday. The legislation they are pushing, which was held up when a broader gun measure was defeated this year, would establish programs to train teachers to recognize the signs of mental illness and how to defuse potentially violent situations.

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