Connecticut shooting spurs gun debate - WFLA News Channel 8

Connecticut shooting spurs gun debate

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The mass shooting in Connecticut last Friday is spurring a debate over how to prevent such a tragedy from happening again – and whether gun laws should be a part of that plan.

At a memorial in Newtown, Conn. on Sunday, President Obama broached the issue – without specifics – by asking a question. "Can we honestly say that we're doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?" he asked.  The President said he'll use the power of his office to try to prevent tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School from happening again.

Now others are interpreting his words and sketching out a debate likely to play out in Washington as the new Congress takes office.

"I agree with President Obama," said Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL). "We simply cannot tolerate this anymore where guns and these semi-automatic rifles are easily accessible."  Castor said she would like to see Congress reinstate a ban on assault weapons, a measure California Sen. Diane Feinstein said she will introduce next year. 

Castor also said the country needs a discussion on mental health issues.  That is where Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL), a former sheriff from Hernando County, says the conversation should focus.

"I think we tend to focus on the gun issue and the real issue though is the mental health issue," Nugent said.  Nugent plans to file a joint bill with Minnesota Sen. Al Franken that is a "reauthorization of the mental health act" to address issues of training for law enforcement and access to treatment.

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