enator Susan Collins issued the following statement regarding the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut:
"I am just sickened by the horrific tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. My heart is filled with sorrow for the victims, particularly the little children whose lives were cut short, for their loved ones who are enduring unspeakable grief, and for the entire community, which is struggling to comprehend this shocking act of violence.
"This is yet another mass murder that our country has experienced far too often. We are still learning the details of the murderer who cut short the lives of 20 little children and seven adults and caused such terrible suffering and unspeakable grief for their families and their community. While we may never know why the shooter killed so many people and himself, we must strive to better understand the multiple causes of such horrific violence.
"Since the shootings, some have called for stricter gun laws. While denying the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens won't change the behavior of those intent on using firearms for criminal purposes, I wholeheartedly agree that we must examine what can be done to help prevent gun violence. I grew up in northern Maine where responsible gun ownership is part of the heritage of many families, and Connecticut has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. Nevertheless, we should examine, among other issues, whether states are reporting data on mentally ill individuals found to be a danger to themselves or others to the national background check database designed to prevent gun purchases by such individuals. During my tenure in the Senate, I have voted for instant background checks, which are designed to prevent individuals with criminal records or serious mental illness from purchasing guns. I also supported an extension of the assault weapon ban when it expired in 2004.
"As was the case in the Connecticut, Colorado, and Arizona shootings, mental illness is a salient factor in many of these tragedies. We must also have a national dialogue about mental illness and determine how we as a society can better identify and care for troubled individuals who pose a threat to themselves and others. We should also take a deeper look at the possible role of the glorification of violence in our media while at the same time respecting First Amendment rights."