Pennsylvania

Pa.'s U.S. senators calling for gun control measures in wake of mass shootings

Pennsylvania's U.S. senators are calling for action on gun control measures in the wake of the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey agree that background checks are the way to go, but after that they have their own solutions.

The mass shootings in Texas and Ohio marked the 250th and 251st such incidents in just 216 days this year in the U.S., according to a gun violence tracking group.

Some say they happen so frequently because of easy access to guns. Others point to mental health issues.

Either way, our state's federal lawmakers are eager for action.

Lawmakers say it's time to get serious about passing stricter gun laws.

"There's a lot we need to figure out in how we can adopt the kind of policies that will curb these terrible experiences," Toomey said.

Toomey is hoping he and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin's 'Manchin-Toomey Bill' can help.

The proposal, first introduced after the Sandy Hook massacre, would expand background checks to all gun sales.

"Be it at a gun show or over the internet and again diminish the risk of someone who doesn't belong owning a firearm ever gets one in the first place," Toomey said.

His Democratic counterpart, Bob Casey, wants to take it a step further.

Casey tweeted Sunday Congress must also limit the size of magazines and ban military-style assault weapons.

He also wants Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get the Senate back to work to vote on legislation the House passed in February to strengthen background checks.

Meanwhile, a Harrisburg-based organization called the American Mental Wellness Association says combating gun violence starts with addressing mental health.

"If all you do is put all your money into treatment and you don't put any dollars into public education for prevention and for early intervention of these physical medical conditions that the problem is not going to go away. In fact the problem will probably get worse," said Sharon Engdahl, the association's executive director.

Other efforts include calling for red flag laws, and adopting the Lie-And-Try Bill which gives the FBI the right to tell the state if someone who can't own a weapon tries to buy one. 

"I hope that if nothing else the accumulated pain from so many of these horrific experiences will be motivation to do something," Casey said.

Toomey was also asked today if President Trump's tone has led to violence. Toomey said the only person to blame is the person who pulled the trigger.

And on the subject of white nationalism, he called it a sick mentality, and we should be trying to identify these threats when we can.


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