U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) issued the following statement today after he voted against cloture on the motion to proceed to Majority Leader Harry Reid's (Nev.) gun bill (S.649):
"We all agree that we should keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but Senator Reid's bill would not prevent tragedies like those that took place in Newtown, Aurora, or Tucson. Instead, this bill would blatantly restrict Americans' Second Amendment rights, places unreasonable burdens on law-abiding citizens, and would do little to nothing to improve public safety.
"Millions of Americans suffer from diagnosable disorders, but too often, we miss the warning signs before a mental health crisis results in violence. We must have a national discussion about improving the ways that we identify and care for people with mental illness. We also must educate and empower members of the community to share information and intervene before someone does something that tragically impacts their lives and the lives of others.
"I'm proud to co-sponsor the Excellence in Mental Health Act and other bipartisan legislation that would help achieve these important goals. Unfortunately, Senator Reid's bill does not include any of these mental health provisions, and it fails to offer real solutions that would have stopped many of the recent tragedies that have shocked the nation."
* Senator Blunt and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) introduced the "Excellence in Mental Health Act" along with 12 of their Senate colleagues. The bipartisan bill is intended to address our nation's fragmented mental health system by offering current Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) a chance to obtain the Federally Qualified Community Behavioral Health Center (FQCBHC) designation.
* In addition, Senator Blunt co-sponsored the "Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013," which was introduced by U.S. Senators Mark Begich (Alaska) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and co-sponsored by 12 of their Senate colleagues. The bill authorizes the launch of a demonstration program to support mental health first aid trainings nationwide in order to help individuals to identify, understand, and respond to the signs of mental illnesses and addiction disorders.
* Senator Blunt also co-sponsored the "Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act," which was introduced by U.S. Senators Al Franken (Minn.) and Mike Johanns (Neb.). This legislation would help make communities safer by improving access to mental health services for people in the criminal justice system who need treatment. The bill also focuses on giving law enforcement officers the tools they need to identify and respond to mental health issues, and includes a 5-year reauthorization of the "Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act" (MIOTCRA), continuing support for mental health courts, and crisis intervention teams. The bill is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 24 Senators and 24 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.