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Family members of victims of recent mass shootings and their supporters are advocating for gun control on Capitol Hill today.
Their visit was previously scheduled to mark congressional inaction on gun control, nine months after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. But their visit is attracting more attention after the deadly Navy Yard shooting this week.
President Obama is calling on lawmakers to toughen gun purchase background checks.
For us in policymaking roles, this is a call to action.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to pass that, and he’s leaving the door open to a narrower bill focused on improving mental health services.
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) says there is a general awareness and agreement in Congress that mental health services are lacking.
“For us in policymaking roles, this is a call to action,” Senator Debbie Stabenow said of the Washington Navy Yard shooting.
Aaron Alexis, the Washington Navy Yard shooter, reportedly suffered from paranoia, sleeplessness and hallucinations. He had called Rhode Island police about a month ago, saying he was being followed and that he was hearing voices.
Stabenow has introduced the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which would provide the mechanisms for emergency 24-hour psychiatric services, among other provisions to improve access to mental health care.
“What we need is a willingness to act,” Stabenow said. “This is an unfortunate crisis that is occurring over and over and over again.”
Stabenow says providing for emergency psychiatric care at community health programs would cost “less than $2.8 billion” over ten years.