Mitch McConnell says gun rights not "core of the problem" after Highland Park shooting
Kentucky - Mitch McConnell, the head of the Republican party in the US Senate, said on Wednesday that easy access to guns is not the "core of the problem" after America suffered another mass shooting on the Fourth of July.
Repeating conservative talking points, the Senate Minority Leader suggested that addressing mental illness would be the best way to stop gun violence like the bloodshed at the Independence Day parade in Highland Park, a suburb 25 miles north of Chicago.
"The core of the problem is not the Second Amendment," McConnell said in an appearance in his home state of Kentucky.
"We have got to figure out some way to identify these troubled young men," McConnell said. "It’s very complicated because after every one of these shootings there are people who say, 'Oh you know I thought he was pretty strange. I wish I notified somebody about it.'"
McConnell spoke out for the first time since suspected killer Robert Crimo III used a high-powered rifle to open fire on spectators watching the July Fourth parade in Highland Park. Seven people were killed and nearly 30 injured.
Crimo bought the high-powered weapon legally after passing a background check despite being found with an arsenal of knives and having the police called on him when he warned he wanted to kill his entire family in 2019.
No charges were filed and the interaction with cops was not enough to prevent Crimo from getting an Illinois state permit to buy the assault weapon.
Police were able to quickly trace Crimo’s identity because he left the gun he bought under his own name behind after the shooting.
Republicans oppose most gun control measures
McConnell recently brokered a deal with Democrats to pass the first modest package of gun violence reforms in decades after the recent massacres in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a store in Buffalo, New York.
Historically, most, but not all, Republican lawmakers in Congress have successfully blocked a ban on assault weapons, which would’ve prevented Crimo from legally buying the weapon.
They focused instead on the need to improve mental health treatment, although many also oppose so-called red flag laws that allow confiscation of weapons in certain situations.
Despite their apparent concern over mental health, most Republicans have opposed increasing access to affordable health care – including mental health care – through the Affordable Care Act, much less making such care universally accessible through Medicare For All.
Anti-gun violence campaigners counter that common-sense solutions, like raising age limits to buy certain weapons and banning high-capacity magazines, could significantly reduce the number of mass shootings and the death tolls.
Cover photo: Brandon Bell / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP