Harkin: Newtown Tragedy Brings Issues of Gun Violence, Mental Health to Forefront

Statement

By:  Tom Harkin
Date: Dec. 17, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement on the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

"We grieve as a nation for the tragedy that unfolded Friday in Newtown. As a father and grandfather, I struggle to process this event, and send my deepest sympathies to each and every family impacted. I join them in questioning what we can do to prevent future tragedies. I also salute the teachers and first responders, who acted so heroically in the face of such terror.

"Though the details of this tragedy are still unfolding, one thing is clear: it is time to address increasing gun violence in this country. As a hunter, I know that the recreational use and collection of guns is important to many Iowans and I will work to protect the legitimate rights of law-abiding American gun owners. But we need to ask whether people need unlimited access to any arms, including those capable of shooting hundreds of bullets in a very short time. We can support gun rights while continuing to support responsible legislation to reduce crime and make our schools and communities safer. Each of these goals is important and I believe that they can be accomplished simultaneously.

"Another issue we simply cannot ignore is the need to renew our focus on mental health services in our country with an emphasis on prevention and early intervention. In the coming days, I will take a closer look at how the federal government can ensure that people and communities who need help for mental health conditions have timely access to the services they require and that those suffering after this tragedy also have the resources they need to heal."