Renewed calls for tighter gun regulations are being made nationwide and in Missouri since this week’s Florida school shooting. Seventeen people were killed in the Broward County massacre and the 19-year-old gunman is behind bars. State Senator Gary Romine, R-Farmington, tells Missouri affiliate KREI in Farmington that gun control is not the answer to solve the continued problem with mass shootings.
“We need to focus on the real problem. We get so caught up in gun control about this being the issue and not really focusing on the real problem. That’s my biggest concern,” says Romine. “Let’s get serious about what is the problem and focus on it, rather than just automatically going to gun control and getting distracted and getting caught up in that debate and not really dealing with mental issues.”
Romine’s comments are similar to the tone used by other Republicans.
“We’ve got to find a balance between actually being honest with ourselves if we have a mental health issue with an individual and it doesn’t become such a stigma that we’re afraid to diagnose it,” says Romine. “Some way somehow, we cannot be afraid to approach and deal with individuals if they have a problem and we’ve got to be able to do it in a way that’s not detrimental.”
During a speech Thursday to address the deadly shooting, President Donald Trump, R, focused on the mental health of shooters. He said Americans must work together to create a culture that “embraces the dignity of life, that creates deep and meaningful connections, and that turns classmates and colleagues into friends and neighbors.”
Supporters of stronger gun laws say Americans do not need access to assault rifles, like the one used in this week’s massacre and many other previous ones. Mark Bogen, the vice mayor of Florida’s Broward County, says that Trump’s expected visit today with the victims of the Parkland school shooting is “absolutely absurd.”
“So President Trump now, based on his actions, allows mentally ill people to purchase guns when over a year ago they could not,” Bogen says at a press conference today.
He says Trump is a hypocrite because the president supports the purchasing of assault weapons, “and then comes down here and wants to act as though this is horrible.”
Luke Turnbough of Missourinet affiliate KREI in Farmington contributed to this story.