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Sen. Mark Kelly said "there is more" Congress can address gun violence

In the wake of the mass shooting At a bank in downtown Louisville In the incident that left five dead and eight injured, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly said he believed lawmakers could do “more” to combat gun violence in the United States beyond last year’s Safer Communities Act.

Kelly — a Democrat whose wife, former Republican Gabby Giffords, was seriously injured in a mass shooting in 2011 — discussed Bipartisan legislation “Face the Nation” on Sunday, calling for additional changes, describing it as “a step in the right direction.”

“We have the most permissive gun laws in the world and we have the highest levels of gun violence,” Kelly told “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan. “We passed this bipartisan, Safer Communities Act. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s only a step and we can do more.”

Although Kelly said he was “a supporter of the Second Amendment” and a gun owner himself, the senator took aim at the processes by which people across the United States acquire guns and suggested that, as a country, “we make it so easy. Irresponsible people. And … criminals can get access to firearms.”


Sen. Mark Kelly on “Face the Nation” on April 16, 2023.

CBS News

The Safe Communities Act was passed in Congress last summer in response to two mass shootings, one at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and one at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in May. The legislation, which President Biden signed into law in June, focused on providing funding and resources to schools as well as reforming gun safety laws and implementing new policies for background checks and mental health support. It was the first gun protection package enacted at the federal level in three decades and was considered a landmark piece of legislation.

One aspect of the Safer Communities Act dedicates funds to states for red flag laws, which aim to identify individuals who may pose a threat of violence to themselves or others and prevent them from purchasing guns. As of this past February, red flags were enacted 19 US states and the District of Columbia.

In Tennessee, where three children and three adults were shot and killed in a mass shooting at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville at the end of March, there is no red flag law. Police said the shooter had purchased multiple guns legally and locally before the attack, three of which were actually used in the shooting; Some have suggested that the attack could have been avoided if the red flag laws had been in place because of the shooter’s parents’ concerns about gun purchases.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during a separate appearance on “Face the Nation” Sunday that he doesn’t think states should be forced to comply with red flag laws. Instead, he said more investment should be made in school counseling and other mental health services to help reduce gun violence.

The governor, who is running for president in 2024, suggested that “we have to actually look at using the law that’s on the books and it’s been there since the ’70s, but it was used in a different way. And that’s if someone is a danger to themselves. or risk to others, then they may be committed.”

“It has to go before a judge, there has to be a hearing,” Hutchinson said. “But we’re using it and … we need to change the context of our society to take those steps whenever we identify mental health issues that pose that kind of risk.”

But Kelly argued that “red flag laws work.”

“We have data that shows that in states that have red flag laws, you prevent gun violence. So that’s definitely a place to start,” Kelly said.

“We have a mental health crisis in our country. We can do more,” he continued. “But, you know, listen to the former vice president say it’s not about firearms, it’s not about guns. I mean, it’s, I mean, we’ve made it so easy. How about, you know, more background checks. You know, Here in the state of Arizona or Texas or many places, you can go to a gun show and get a gun without a background check. It just doesn’t make sense to most Americans.”

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