Courtney believes Sandy Hook bill to be possible
On Dec. 14 2012, the second deadliest school shooting in United States' history occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and now legislators across the country are working to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again.
One of the legislators in Congress working to prevent another such tragedy is Congressman Joe Courtney of Connecticut's 2nd Congressional District.
"I believe this issue has a life of its own," said Courtney in reference to the legislative action that will come as a result of Sandy Hook. According to Courtney, Congress does not currently have a bill ready to pass in response to this tragedy. When asked about which kind of legislation he thought would be likely, Courtney said, " You can't get too far ahead of things."
Courtney expressed his belief that it would be possible to reach a compromise in order to pass a bill in response to Sandy Hook. One of the measures he felt support existed for on both sides of the aisle was requiring background checks for all gun purchases. Courtney cited the success of The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in stopping the purchase of 1.5 million firearms as a sign of the merits of requiring background checks. Courtney said Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York's Fourth Congressional district has filed an amendment to require universal background checks for gun purchases and that he is a cosponsor of her amendment.
Courtney expressed the opinion that in school mental health care services need to be expanded and improved. One way Courtney believes Congress can help improve mental health care is Congressman Ron Barber's recently introduced Mental Health First Aid Act, which would help increase awareness of mental illness by training teachers, students and first responders.
Courtney expressed the belief that college students could work to prevent a similar tragedy by volunteering their time to help young students. "I think that if college students really care about this they should volunteer in school districts, because they are really able to connect with kids," Courtney said. This connection allows students to understand kids in way adults simply cannot.
In the Connecticut State Legislature Representative Greg Haddad of the 54th Assembly District, and other legislators, are working to craft Connecticut's own response to Sandy Hook. According to Rep. Haddad the legislature has formed a thirty member bipartisan super committee to best evaluate how to respond to Sandy Hook. According to Haddad, the committee is divided into three subcommittees: Gun violence, Mental Health and School Safety. "I think as quickly as they can move through the issues they will be put together a comprehensive reform package," she said.
In regards to the issue of gun control, "We will still have guns in Connecticut," said Haddad. "I think on an issue like this though legislators have a responsibility to listen to both sides," said Haddad. Haddad also expressed his support for closing the background check loophole that currently exists in regards to gun control.
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