Katko: Mental health needs to be part of the conversation after Texas shooting

Nov 7, 2017

The deadly shooting at a Texas church Sunday has renewed calls for stricter gun control laws in the United States. But Rep. John katko (R-Camillus) says this tragedy shouldn't simply bring calls for gun control. 

Katko says it's clear that there were mental health issues with the shooter in Sunday's attack. 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley received a "bad conduct discharge" from the Air Force in 2014, and was courtmartialed for assaulting his wife and child. 

Police say Kelley sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, who was a parishioner at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, before going to the church and killing 26 people and injuring more than 20 others.

Katko says mental health has to be a component in any conversations regarding violent events like this. 

"We have to take a look at mental health issues. Suicide is the number two cause of death for kids 24 and younger. It’s the number 10 cause of death for everyone. Mental health is by far in epidemic proportions. We’ve got to take a look at that issue as well," said Katko.

Katko has resisted calls for more gun control in the aftermath of other mass shootings. After a man shot and killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 in Las Vegas last month, Katko said he would be open to more restrictions on bump stocks, which can make a semiautomatic rifle fire at a faster rate. 

But many Democrats disagree, and say now is the time to look at the nation's gun laws. Speaking on the Senate floor Monday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) says something has to change.

"Americans are being slaughtered and Congress is refusing to protect them." said Gillibrand. "And I hear my colleagues who rightly say we can't pass laws to stop every instance of a deranged gunman who wants to kill innocent men, women and children, just like our other criminal laws won't necessarily stop every instance of crime, but there is no excuse for not even trying."